…in which I complain a lot but end on a somewhat crazy up note.

I had a great post prepared for Christmas in which I showed off my beret in progress.  Using my new camera (brown)!

And then a few things happened.

First, I couldn’t get the pictures off the camera.  I’m no techno-boob but turns out my card reader doesn’t handle SDHC (high capacity) so I need a new card reader (I know I can get to my pictures other ways but I am a big fan of the card reader).  Matt and I eventually gave up and downloaded the proprietary camera software we love to hate, hooked up the camera directly for downloading, and, a day late, I prepared to finish off my post yet again.

But wait!

The photo was too large for WordPress to upload.  $&@*#&$^!  Again with this issue!  What a cute problem to have, eh?  The equipment is too sophisticated for my end use needs.  Gah.  This time I could not intuit how to change the file size on the camera – maybe I am a techno-boob? – Matt to the rescue.  Now my photos will be under 1 MG each.

Then my Christmas Day green Lisa beret progress photo was a bit washed out and I was unenthusiastic at that point about fiddling with a sub-standard photo, blah blah blah.

But it doesn’t end there.  Sometime between the first and second problem, I broke my Denise cable trying to scoot my stitches along.  I don’t think they were too tight but they may have been a bit tight and a bit crammed.  I hear Denise has a lifetime warranty so I will look into getting my cable replaced.

Meanwhile I still had a beret to finish!  At 96 stitches around of bulky yarn, it was a close fit on double points but I only had a few more rows to go before decreasing.  Merrily we move along…

And then yesterday.  On our third hour-plus (one way) car trip of the holiday season, I finished my beret.  Tried it on.  And it was…not very beret-like.  More like a regular hat with some odd decreasing at the top.  It needs to be deeper.  I should probably go up a needle size since my gauge was a bit tight (this didn’t seem like a bad idea when I started – and the gauge seemed to be right for the pattern).  Alas.  Let me say it again: ALAS!  I cannot start to think my beret series is cursed from the start because I am superstitious enough to let that eat away at me.  I wrote to the designer to ask for clarification on the bulky version gauge since that was not listed in the pattern.  I will get back on this horse.  I may need to break down and buy a new cable needle to do it with, however.

Meanwhile: I am knitting on the third restart of my son’s socks.  Turns out that even with measuring repeatedly and with all my experience making adult sized socks, I cannot grasp the fatness of my skinny boy’s feet.  This time around, I went from 48 sts around to 60 (4×2 rib) which seem too big but better that than too small (yarn is Lorna’s Laces Shephard Sock leftovers from Conwy).  Many people have suggested the size doesn’t matter because, with another squeaker on the way, the socks will fit someone, but I made the horrible mistake of letting Mr Z pick the yarn so these are HIS socks.  No matter what.

While I’m whinging, let me just add that it occured to me over the last couple of days that all my daily aches and pains aren’t actually going away.  That I wasn’t having “good days” and “bad days” because I ache all the time and, at best, it’s a matter of degree.  I cannot take ibuprofen so Matt is under orders to make me sit down with a heating pad when I get truly evil.  This will be my reality for the next  two and a half months.  I shall be insufferable to live with since pain makes me bitchy.  You have been warned.  Although I am going to try very hard to take a prenatal yoga class which I have much faith will help my aches and mood.

Speaking of nurse Matt, I am planning to cast on for this today.  It’s for his birthday in mid-January.  I’m trying to keep it a secret; he’s not hyper-observant.  But he might be reading here.  I can’t ask him if he reads the blog or he will come look at what’s going on.  The larger issue is that I don’t have a lot of time to knit it up and I think he would agree that finishing the cardigan is more important than surprising him.  Right now, I am pretty sure he doesn’t know.  He asked me two days ago when was I going to make him a sweater – in that slightly despairing tone because even he can see how many projects I am doing simultaneously.  But he is also not stupid and knows his WINTER birthday is imminent.

My long US 10 circular needle is ready and the yarn, Cascade Ecological (economical and beautiful) Wool is wound.  Do I cast on 232+ sts and knit the whole thing in the round with steeks like a super brave confident knitter?  Or do I do lots of pieces that need sewing up and facings and make me curse my earlier cowardice?  I think I am going to go with the first option (EEK!  Or maybe that should be STEEK!) because I am currently seaming Z’s sweater and gods I hate seaming.  If the only sewing I have to do is on the zipper then maybe it will be done–all the way done–not just the knitting–before spring.

Madly, Deeply

That is how much I want a beret.

I don’t wear hats but in college I tried berets and found my exception.  Whether or not they look good on me (most hats do not) is moot – *I* like how they look on me.  Or how I imagine myself to look in one.  Whatever.  They are wool and they cover my head and I will wear them.  (I feel like I am reasoning with my three-year-old self here.)

Alas, after going through a few of the plain black wool variety which I probably picked up at Target, I lost the last one and never replaced it.

This was all before I took up knitting in 2002.  Why have I not made myself headgear?  (Calorimetry doesn’t count, especially because I rarely wear it.)  Two years ago, I made Solstice hats for my family.  But not myself.  (Do not mistake me for the selfless knitter.  I just have a short attention span.  Re: multitudinous projects on the needles!)

This beret re-obsession has been sneaking up on me slowly this autumn.  Patterns coming out which catch my eye.  Mentions that slouchy hats are fashionable.  Me walking sloooowly across a windy November parking lot with toddler in tow, acknowledging that my jacket hood is but a windy cave.

A few days ago I realized I would be lucky to see the Winter Solstice sun rise without casting on for a beret.  I will try.  There is miles of yarn to go before that night…

I want to make a plain (and FAST) one first, then maybe Gretel, lovely Gretel.  Also I am charmed by the multicolored tam so that will be number three.

The first sign that this is an obsession: one is not enough.  The second? Instead of eating or dressing my child, I go spelunking for yarn:

The other morning our newly replaced halogen bulb burnt out (good thing they come in 2s) so in the dawn twilight I was bent over the cedar chest in the living room with a flashlight digging for the second skein of Donegal Tweed (dark foresty green).  In the process I found two skeins of Cascade Pastaza (dusky peacock).  Two hats worth!  And when I finish Equinox sometime in the next millennia, all the leftover Berroco Ultra Alpaca (I heart you, you warm softie!) for the colorwork in the yoke can go into a tam.  Maybe one of these?  Which are so beautiful (albeit a tad pastel) that I am weak in the knees.  And, apparently rhyming.  Perhaps another sign of obsession?

My enjoyment of picking out projects + yarn is second only to the actual knitting – at least while the knitting is fun, not the slogging to get it done part.  That is one measure better than seaming, the thing I must tolerate for my beloved hobby.

Finishing my Solstice knits before the Solstice looks dire but I do not fear my family’s disappointment or finger-pointing.  I have to get them done so I can make a beret so I don’t get a terrible cold for which I cannot take any medication!  And, ye gads, what if one of them thinks they can keep the knitting needles in their holiday package?  And what if said needles were the ones I need to make my beret?!?

Back to knitting.  Before I make myself cry.

Photographer's Assistant
Photographer’s Assistant

Aim for the 12…

Bubbles and Ice, March 2008 by Terry Ullmann
Bubbles and Ice, March 2008 by Terry Ullmann

I am seeing talk around the knitting blogosphere of people knitting 12 adult sweaters in 2009, aka NaKniSweMoDo.  This is a delicious and dangerous idea.  I know, for myself, this would be a Challenge, it would even be difficult, but not completely, utterly unachievable.  Just because I haven’t done it before…

My problem with large projects is small projects.  No, no.  I can simplify this further and say my problem is projects.  Plural.  I like to have lots of things on the needles at the same time which makes the large items (sweaters, blankets) grow slowly. Slooowly.  Glacial slowness, people.  For example, 11 months ago, I started the Equinox pullover.  Where is she now?  Still on the needles.  Haven’t touched it since June.  I really did want to finish it this year but not so much that I didn’t make plans to knit a pile of stuff for Solstice and a thing for a birthday in mid-January.  I MIGHT finish within the 12-month mark but frankly, I have no plan to.  I DO have a plan to finish Equinox before casting on Ribby Cardi, my maternity cardigan (not that I’m going to make it larger than normal, I just figured it would be wearable for these last few months–haha, if I have it done before the baby is born.  HA!).

I’m running off on a tangent.  I wanted to point out my natural predilection for things like NaKNiSweMoDo.  For the past two years, I have set goals for myself for knitting – just for fun – the year becomes what it will be regardless.

For 2007, I resolved to knit 12 pairs of socks, 6 sweaters?, and as much stash as possible.  Because I made my family socks for the holidays, I managed 12 pairs of socks without a cramp (2 were for children).  I made 5 sweaters as well, but only one was adult-sized.  Records also show at least 8 additional projects which used up stashed yarn.  Not bad at all.

For 2008, I resolved 13 socks, 6 tops (notice my strategic use of the word “top” rather than “sweater”), and more stash elimination.  Well.  I have only made 5 pairs of socks (all adult) this year with a pair on the needles right now which are actually slippers socks (worsted weight yarn).  The bigger joke is that I have finished 2 tops but one didn’t count because it was just hemming and seaming AND is angrily stuffed into a bag and shoved into a deep dark corner awaiting frogging.  Great pattern, great yarn, bad combo, and I should have known better.  ‘Nuff said.  The other top…is a shrug.  Miss Dashwood.  She is lovely.  She is my birthday present to myself.  She covers approximately 3% of my body and it is kind of embarrassing to count this as my one and only finished top of 2008.  Sigh.

I have finished more than 10 stash-busting projects so far this year!  One not in that number yet (it will be in 2009) is the baby’s blanket, which is decimating the large and mis-matched amount of Wool-Ease.  Whew.

Will I make a list of 12 adult sweaters to knit in 2009?  You betcha.  I love lists. Here’s the start of it:

1. supersecretbuttheinitiatedcanspyitonmyravelryqueue

2. Ribby Cardi

3. Twisted Vines Cardigan

4. Thermal

The first two are definites, the second two are near-definite (ie, haven’t bought the yarn yet).  There are other ideas but none so firm.

Will I entertain a notion of making 12 sweaters in 2009 in addition to the inevitable socks, design work, and giving birth?  Helen Keller said it best: “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.”

Thermo-Motivation

A week ago the cold seeped into my bones and I began to dig for socks.  I prefer my feet as bare as possible for as long as the weather permits but once the cold sets in, I want good socks.  Warm but not too thick.  My dream came true when I discovered handknit wool socks.  They are warmer than almost anything else I can put on my feet without the sweatiness.  The only downside I have found is that wool socks plus hardwood floors is rather dangerous.  (Answer: slippers; and less wear on the socks).

As I began the sock-cavation, I despaired.  Many socks were holey and mismatched.  I had my first pair of handknit socks succumb to holes.  There was an undeniable dearth of socks.  I could start knitting a new pair for myself but there was a 2nd or 3rd iteration of toddler socks already on the needles and how long could those take to finish?  (Nevermind the multiple iterations.)  Really, I had a lot of projects on the needles.  And my rate is about one sock per week.  Feet cold.  Cash in bank.  Go to store and buy cheap machine made socks.

So I went.

But the cheap machine made socks are all made of acrylic.  Which isn’t warm.  O woe! (Yes, I could go elsewhere to buy socks, even online, but where’s the fun in that?)

I gave in and cast on with stash sock yarn.  It’s the ubiquitous rainbow Opal yarn but special to me because my friend J found it at a garage sale and got it for me, knowing my prediliction for sock knitting.  She is a knitter also and one day will turn to the Sock Side–after she finishes churning out sweaters.

Being all colorful and stuff, it begged for plain stockinette and what’s easier than that?

(CO 64 sts on US 1 DPNs – 5 of course.  Top down, 1 inch of 2×2 ribbing, short row heel which is new to me but made possible by Cosmicpluto‘s awesome tutorial.  Planning on a Nancy Bush-style star toe.)

I went to this party on Saturday and suddenly discovered that I had knit 6.5 inches on my sock.  Woohoo! That’s some kind of personal record. I might be done altogether if it weren’t for the legwarmers.

Ah! The legwarmers. I’m done with the first and a little over halfway done with the second. We’re having a late evening review of Farscape. Rygel just peed fire on the bad guys. Is that a poor endorsement for one of the best scifi series ever made?