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.”

Kudos…and some stuff.

felted clogs

My site was down for a few days–apologies to those who were wondering what was going on.  My lifestyle is such that I am not hardwired to my computer so it took me a while to learn there was a problem (thanks to my friend, C, who emailed me repeatedly until something sunk into my pregnant brain).  The kudos are to Bluehost, our web hosting service for fast and easy and non-demeaning customer service.  I think I was on the phone for all of 2 minutes and my site was working before I hung up.  Not to mention the fact that in three or so years of being their customer, I think this is the first time we’ve had to call them.  If not, Matt’s not been complaining.

The flurry of holiday knits is upon me.  My family–my parents, sibs, and our SOs and offspring–celebrate Solstice as our winter holiday  (my husband and I do a traditional Xmas with his family).  I’ll write more about Solstice later in its own post.  What’s important to know here is that my mom introduced us to the idea of Solstice when we were kids and she would give us handmade dolls and whatnot.  It was awesome!  So we re-adopted this holiday as adults (in lieu of Christmas or Hanukkah) and try to give each other handmade or sentimental gifts.  Perfect outlet for a gift knitter, eh?

The Winter Solstice is at 7.04 am EST on Sunday 12-21-08.  Our party begins the evening before (some of us try to stay up all night).

I have 8 giftees total.  So far this year, I have exactly ONE gift done and tucked away…and 8 days to go.  This is not a strong year for me, clearly.  Two are half done or more.  Two others are not knit but involve sewing; I plan to do them this weekend.  Two more are not even started, although I have the yarn: one I will start today on the theory that I would rather gift everyone half-finished projects rather than some done and some not even close to done; the other I don’t have a pattern for and am trying to find one before I start designing it (love to design but damn, it takes a long time and I only have days).  That brings me to seven.

So number eight is my dad and I am not giving him a handmade gift this year.  Sadly.  He loves to receive clothing and will always wear the goods but I recently learned that my mom is hiding the handknits from him because she considers him too rough on them.  Which I don’t argue with per se, but I would rather someone wear them!  So while I sort through this conundrum in my head, I have only 8 days to finish everything and will gladly give him something that is not handmade but makes him happy: clothes.  He is, hands down, the easiest person to gift.  Just walk into the nearest department store and pick something masculine and warm, be it socks, sweater, jacket, slippers, or jeans, in a large size.  An optional step is to put it in a gift bag rather than the store’s bag.

The next week is going to be busy.  Luckily most of these gifts are of the hands and feet variety and involve worsted weight yarn.  I am trying to be somewhat realistic.

Of course, this crazy crafting schedule doesn’t take into account all of the extra things that come up on life like the stocking I am designing, which is only half-knit also needs to be done by Solstice.  Or my car, which broke yesterday.  And on and on.  You can imagine it.  It happens to all of us.  The best laid plans, etc.

My plan for foward momentum today involves starting Matt’s gift, which, I am going to go out on a limb and assume he’s not read this far and even if he has, he shouldn’t be too surprised since he just asked me for these last week.  I’m making him the famous Fiber Trends’ Felted Clogs with Cascade 220 in the Women’s 10 which is equivalent to Men’s 8.5, his size (their smallest Men’s size is 11!).  This is my first time through this pattern. I am hoping to find some suede scraps in his leather crafting stuff to put on the soles since we are phasing out carpet and wool+wood or cork or bamboo is SLICK!

Sorry about the lack of photos.  I am not in the habit these days, obviously, and when I sit down to start composing a post, it’s too late to start snapping because that’s a whole other brain wave.

Gave Thanks

House Socks

The past two weeks have been a flurry of holiday cheer.  It all starts with Halloween, actually, which is both holiday and birthday in our family.  From that point until New Year’s Day, we have a birthday or holiday every 1-2 weeks for two of the most intense months in the Western Hemisphere.

Of knitting, there has been much, but little that was completed and even less I can show-and-tell because they are designs and I am still not all sorted out on the best way to proceed with revealing designs in progress.  It generally is considered a no-no but would it matter if it just ends up published on my own site anyway?  I think not.  But I am also discovering in the process that sometimes innocent projects suddenly become Designs; sometimes things destined for one venue get moved to another; sometimes things just never make it to the end.  So I sit on my pretty pictures, very sorry.

Speaking of holiday cheer, some highlights:

I made homemade from-scratch pumpkin pie with canned organic pumpkin puree and a store bought frozen crust.  Even though I am six-and-a-half months pregnant AND also provided homemade whipped cream, no one accepts this as from-scratch pumpkin pie.  Sigh.

Matt invented Thanksgiving Bingo.  He and I made cards up for each literate family member (sorry Z) and they included squares like Someone takes a nap, Something gets spilled, Something gets burned, Dogs steal food, There is a last minute change to the menu, Sarah goes to the store, Carol talks about buying yarn, and so on.  It was hysterical.  The short of it all: my nine year old niece won, thanks to our puppy destroying some beer in the breezeway AND it was hard to end the game because everyone was SO well behaved, in effort to try and not give other people squares.  The significance here is that while everyone in my small immediate family likes each other and enjoys getting together, something about the mundanity of Thanksgiving makes us suddenly dysfunctional and every year there are fights and tears among the adults.  Bingo was quite the therapeutic breakthrough!  There will be more Bingo next year.

The day after T-day (as if we hadn’t had enough of each other yet) was Lost Family Day, which could mean so many things but was only a two-day Lost marathon (season 4) and cookie baking extravaganza at my house with my immediate family and some adopted family-friends.  We baked 500 cookies and my sister crocheted dishcloths to send to our far flung relations.  There was much consumption of video games and Disney preteen tv outside the kitchen.  Our puppy broke into the garage and stole peanut butter cookies but spurned the ginger cookies (noticing a pattern with the dog?).  My dishwasher dramatically threw a hose in the middle of day two, dumping gallons of water in the basement–I always have dramatic maintenance things happen during holiday weekends so this one does not surprise me in the least.

It seems like I have done nothing for the past three days but shop online or in stores for holiday gifts.  It makes me twitchy, especially because I am not even close to done.  But this is a diatribe I will keep to myself.

Last night we celebrated my niece’s ninth birthday.  The hit present was a large marker board and a package of dry erase markers from Noah.  He has his girlfriend even wrote a long Rebus-style message on the board for her card, which kept four girls busy for a whole 15 minutes.

Straight on until morning, eh?  I do actually have a wee little pattern to share with ya’ll tomorrow.  It was part of my gift to my niece and my sister insists that even though it is tres easy, some folks appreciate not having to do the math themselves.

Snow in my eyes…

…couldn’t see the keyboard.  Or the calendar, apparently.  Where does the time go?  Sometimes into lethargy and uncertainty.

Rainbow socks are complete, albeit small (photos to come this weekend).  How did that happen?  Didn’t I try the first one on?  It’s small both in girth and length.  Not so much that I can’t wear them but I doubt the length will stretch with wear.  I should rip out the toe and reknit but I am so not interested in that, especially with this self-patterning yarn. Meanwhile, immediately after finishing them Wednesday evening, I set them down somewhere and I cannot find them.  I wonder if this is a sign?  Maybe these are not my socks after all.

The design work has taken twists and turns, it always does, but I think it contributed to my slowness in posting.  The sock design is now photographed but needs to be formally written up.  No big deal, but it is a to do for this weekend.  I hope to have it sent off by Monday morning.

The stocking design had to be ripped and reknit so many times!  I finally have it down and just need to finish.  La dee dah.  Yeah.

The wrap.  The wrap broke my heart a little bit.  First there was the raging doubt that I could knit that whole thing (including all these other projects, eep!) by the end of the month or even the end of the year.  An additional layer of doubt was whether the design as written would work or did I need to tweak this and that and would tweaking mean ripping out rows of 150 sts over and over?  Crap almighty.  Finally, there was the issue of yarn quantity.  I knew I needed more.  I didn’t know how much more and couldn’t until I knit up at least one ball.  Which I wasn’t doing because of all the previous layers of doubt.  So I took my wee swatch, figuring it would at least give me a ballpark and I could buy extra on top of that.  I weighed the swatch using my digital kitchen scale.  I measured the length and width.  I did the math.  14 balls.  I have 3.  It was both crushing and a relief.  A crushing relief. I did not have enough yarn and believed (without reason since I didn’t call the shop) that I would not be able to get 11+ more balls in the same dye lot.

I stuck all the papers into a file folder and will take this on again in January.  I will probably also pick a different yarn.  Meanwhile, what to do with 150g of dk bamboo?

But all the sadness is behind me; I have come to terms.  I am a horrible planner, you see.  I always bite off more than I can chew on the theory that if you shoot for the 10, even if you fall short, you might still hit the 8.  As I get older, I get better at shruging off the disappointments.  I bring it on myself, after all.

Today is actually a day of happiness, which is perhaps why I am also back here finally.  I received my first seed catalog of winter – the earliest ever! – as well as the winter issue of Interweave Knits.  I also spied my Mismatched Legwarmers pattern on Ravelry.  The Ravelry free pattern points back to this site (see sidebar for pattern link) but getting set up on Ravelry as a designer was a small hurdle which I have finally cleared – yey!

Last, my sister and friends are taking me out tonight for a girl’s date to have dinner and see and movie.  I don’t get out much to the movies – this might be my fourth theatrical release this year? – so it is exciting for that alone.