Thursday, May 22, 2008

Deadline 19 days

Just when I thought I had pulled it all together, something comes along to throw a spanner in the works. Ahhh, but I'm getting ahead of myself here, so I'll begin at the beginning, and take it from there.

After finishing the solid black socks for hubby, a labour of love most certainly, I thought I would work on the booties, and perhaps the fringe jumper, until I became more certain of what I wanted to start next. I was tempted to start something else, mind you, particularly as I had Thursday night off before going away Friday and Saturday to a Western Action shoot on the other side of Adelaide. But I resisted, and decided I would work on The Fringe jumper while away. Even though it is a HUGE project size wise, it is, for the most part, mindless knitting.

We drove over Friday afternoon, arriving at our rented cabin in Bolivar, SA at around 5:30. I knit on the jumper all the way over. I was talking to Chris about the project I would do next, and he mentioned his mom's birthday which is coming up on June 10th. Now, I've been wanting to make a jumper for his mom, and was thinking about trying to rush one before Mother's Day, but decided I didn't have enough time. Hearing about her birthday, which I had totally forgotten about, I was kicking myself for not realizing this when I was thinking about making a jumper for Mother's day, because if I hadn't finished it, well, I could have just kept knitting and surely would have been finished by her birthday. So, sitting there in the car, I starting mulling over the possibility of getting a jumper finished by her birthday. I had a pattern in mind, and even the yarn to knit it with, but of course, had brought none of it with me, so the earliest I could start would be Sunday. That would give me about 21 days to finish a jumper. Tight, but if I lay down everything else and concentrated strictly on the jumper, it would be done.

I continued knitting on the Fringe jumper that night. If you don't remember, the Fringe jumper is knit from cuff to cuff, and I was on those long rows that reach from the waistband in the front, over the shoulder and down to the wasteband in the back. I realised Friday night that I was getting close to the point where I must divide for the neckline. So I knit like a mad woman, wanting to get the neckline divided and start knitting on the back before the shoot tomorrow, as trying to do all that "on the run" so to speak, would be difficult. I did finish, but with Chris already in bed and glaring at me.

The next morning on the way to the shoot, I broke one of the tips of a cord to my Denise needle set, which is what the Fringe jumper was on. This distressed me greatly, but thank goodness I had extras with me, and also extra stitch holders, so I got all that fixed up on the way to the shoot. I was, however, in a nasty mood about it.

I won't go into too much detail about the shoot. It had been a long time since I'd had any practice at all, and my shooting was abysmal, but then, I shoot for fun more than worry about scores anyway. It was rainy, muddy, cold and yucky and the day went on until it was nearly dark. Standing in the bad weather in cowboy boots for 9 hours...well, I'll let you use your imagination, but I wouldn't call it fun. Still, I wore my knitted pancho, and I did look pretty cute :)

(sorry, old pic, but I couldn't find a newer one)

Sunday was not much better, weather wise, but it was of shorter duration, and after the awards presentation we were on our way home. I continued to knit on the Fringe, and by the end of the trip, I had made an admirable amount of progress on it, and it was a really fun knit all in all.

Now, let me explain a bit about this jumper. Actually, my first idea was to make her a cardigan. There's a pattern in my "Knitting the New Classics" book that is made with bulky mohair. It comes with instructions on making a cardi or a jumper in the same pattern.

I have two lots of bulky mohair that should be enough to make it, but one is in light pastels, which I don't think would be appropriate for a woman her age, and the other is in darker "stormy" blues and mauves and greys. Really pretty yarn I found on sale at Spotlight and bought with last years (or was it year before last?) birthday money. I had actually chosen it for myself...but I can't be greedy here.

The trouble is, it's varigated yarn, and varigated yarn doesn't make good cardi's. It's hard to get the color strips lined up for the two front sections. There's a picture of one in Ravelry, and when I saw that, it dawned on me that with this type of yarn, the jumper would be the best option. It also helps button holes or buttons to sew on.

Sunday night I started on the jumper, but I was so exhausted, I admit I didn't get far. Monday morning, I realised that the gauge was coming up too small, so I ripped it out and started all over again using bigger needles. Now, I'm getting a good gauge, and all is going well. I had my two days off Tuesday and Wednesday, and after copious amounts of knitting both days, I'm about 2/3 done with the back. I could have done better, but I did have housework that seriously needed to be done, and today is payday, with the subsequent errands to run. Hopefully, I'll be able to finish up the back by tomorrow, or Saturday at the latest.

So every other project has been lain aside for the moment. No pictures or updates are to be expected for awhile. Nineteen more days until deadline...maybe a few more if Chris can delay the "party" until the weekend after the actual day.

On the good news front, my Peace Fleece arrived today. I was shocked. I wasn't looking for it for another week, but they had sent it "priority" post, so I expect that sped it up. It feels great, on the one hand, to have it here safe and sound, but on the other hand, it's a bit frustrating not to be able to get started with it for at least another couple of weeks.

Along with the yarn I needed, I also ordered a pattern. It's called the Coup D'etat Cradigan, and was only $4. I thought that I might like it down the track, but it's not for this lot of Peace Fleece. I have to see, first, if I can easily alter it to be a bit bigger, as the top size is a size smaller than I need. If that doesn't work, I'll use it to make something for someone else. But by getting the pattern now, I'll know how much Peace Fleece to order for it down the track.

I also got these nifty Peace Fleece sew in labels, just for fun. They were like .30 cents each, and I doubt they added much weight to the package :)

Truthfully, I might delay knitting the Central Park Hoodie even longer. While working so dilligently (and actually seeing progress) on the Fringe jumper, I got a bug to get it finished asap. It is winter here, and it would be nice to see it finished in time to wear this year. Diddo the short row scarf. Then, I MUST get something finished for little Michael before he outgrows them.

So maybe..just maybe...I'll be a good girl and finish more of my WIP's before starting on another project. Maybe.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Pulling it Together

A few things have happened to bring my scattered "ADHD" knitting back into some sembalance of order. I wrote to Peace Fleece to see if they had any more Zarya Fog Worsted in the dye lot that I needed, and in fact they said they had plenty. When I estimated in my last post that I would be "a skein or two" short to do the Central Park Hoodie, I grossly underestimated. In fact, I will need 5 skeins to safely complete that project. But I have quite settled on it, and so, my decision is made. I have ordered the yarn from Peace Fleece, but I have yet to order the PDF, although I'm feeling there is really no big hurry there. It's only $5 and can be sent via email, so it's not as though I have shipping time to worry about.

I'm not sure why I'm procrastinating about ordering it. I suppose it's because I reckon if I get the pattern in my hands, I will want to start right away with the Peace Fleece I already have, and really I had rather get started when I: a.)have finished a couple of my WIP's currently on the needles; and b.)have all the Peace Fleece required safely in my hands.

I started a pair of baby socks for Micheal Ralph, my newest grandson over the past week. I'm at the point of turning the heel on the second sock. It's silly. I could have finished the both of them in a day or two easy, but there really isn't any large enough areas of "mindless knitting" so I can only devote the time when I can pay strict attention to detail...and for me...that isn't much. Even when I find I have a few just seems too hard to pull it all out and work on it. But I need to get it done soon. I have Tuesday and Wednesday off next week, and I plan on getting them done then.

I ordered and recieved some soft grey English Leichester wool tops to spin up, and some gorgeous teal green sock yarn, from my buddy Jane at Moseley Park online shop. She's a great gal that I met on Ravelry who lives over in Kimba, SA, and her shop is something special. To check it out, see my links.

I also went to Spotlight this week. I didn't really have anything specific knitting wise I wanted to look at, but I was curious about "pattern designing" paper. That is, paper with HUGE grids like mega graph paper. I had seen before, in the quilters section, a green cutting mat type thing with a graph on it for some incredible price ($100 or something like that for the largest size), but never the paper. Instead, I found something in between those two. It's cardboard, it's huge, and since I don't need to do any cutting on it, it's perfect for my needs. Best of all, it was only fifteen bucks. So I grabbed it up. Now, I can use it for designing, or just to lay finished peices of jumpers, cardis and the like on it to make sure that gauge is good and the peice is the size it should be. I can see myself getting good use out of this new "toy".

There is some BIG news. Finally, after what seems decades, but in fact was only a bit over a month, I finished the "Sacrifice Socks", the jet black Patonyle socks I was making for Chris. I still need to block them, but otherwise, they are looking pretty good, or at least as good as solid black men's socks CAN look.

I want to get another pair of socks on the needles, but I don't plan on getting in any sort of hurry to finish them. It's just neat to have a sock project handy for travel purposes. Most likely I will start making my "boat socks" with the Patonyle I dyed red and white on my last dyeing expidition. I think I'll use a pattern out of Bordhi's "Socks that Soar on Two Circular Needles" book called "Cable Top Socks". It uses the turned toe, which I've never tried before, and the foot and leg parts are stockingnet, with a nifty little cable at the top of the leg. I don't want to use this yarn for anything lacy, and don't want lacy "boat socks" either, so it works for me.

But I'm being strong, and I'm NOT going to start on the "boat socks" just yet. I really need to get the baby's stuff finished. I may do a hat to match the socks, or a baby blanket with my blue and white Wendy's Velvet Flake. I am definately going to do SOMETHING else as soon as I finish the baby socks.

This weekend, however, is not a good time for either. In a couple of hours we are going to leave to go over to the Two Wells area (Northwest of Adelaide) and get a cabin for tonight (Friday) and Saturday night. Saturday and Sunday the Adelaide Pistol Club hosts the "Winter Roundup", arguably the largest Western Action Shooting event in Australia. I've described Western Action Shooting before, so I won't go into details here, but suffice it to say it requires you to don circa 1800's garb and shoot at targets following a set scenerio.

It ALL takes place out of doors, and this weekend it is supposed to be raining buckets. Now we need the rain, but I'm not all that fond of the idea of standing around in it. They will, I'm told, make some concessions for the weather, but these generally make the day longer (and standing in high heeled western boots, longer isn't good for me), but they will not cancel.

So, it appears, I'm to be looking forward to two days of soggy misery. The knitting I'm taking along to console me is "The Fringe" (which desperately needs my attention at any rate) and "Hirohitos Revenge" the Short row scarf I'm doing with the Noro. Both have been on the back burner while I worked desperately on those damnable black socks, so I'm glad to be getting them out and hopefully will have some progress to show for my efforts when next I post.

Till then...

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Knitting ADHD

I think I'm going into knitter's overload. My mind flits about from various projects I want to do, to others that I "need" to do, and to the massive amounts of yarn dedicated to projects in both of these categories. Balls and skeins of yarn are nestled in the chest, crammed under the bed, and stuffed in various other places too numerous to mention right now. Still, I think I hear them crying out for some attention, some action on my part to see them reach their destiny.

Then, of course, there's yarn I want, but have yet to buy..but that's a whole other story.

Just as a recap of my current situation: I have three projects I'm currently working on.

The "Sacrifice socks", those black Patonyle monstrosities for my DH, which are nearing completion. They travel well, and are getting the bulk of the attention right now, but now I'm afraid they aren't going to fit. Yes, I knit them from the toe up, in some misguided conviction that this would eliminate the possibility of a bad fit. Of course, toe up usually works, but only when the recipient is kind enough to let you try them on him/her as you go. He is willing, after a fashion, to allow this, but then jerks around painfully every time I try to slip them on. I had not factored in his ticklishness. I had known of it, but the severity of his afflicition was grossly underestimated. So all I can do now is knit and hope.

The short row scarf knit with Noro, Hirohito's Revenge, hasn't seen much action in the past week, so I won't bother with a picture right now. It would probably, however, be the quickest and easiest to finish when I pick it back up, so I'm not terribly worried about it right now.

Then there's "The Fringe", the jumper I'm working on with the 14ply Paton's Homespun. Seriously boring knitting over, at present, massively long rows, and I haven't touched it in awhile, so again, I won't bother with a picture. I do let it ride around in the boot of my car, just in case I get stranded somewhere without any other knitting. While it is, without a doubt, the best traveled of my projects, it's not getting any closer to completion.

In other UFO's, there's still the man's jumper that lacks a sleeve, and I DO have the yarn now to finish it, so it would be really easy to knock that job out of the way. The vest for Chris, likewise, would be simple to finish. A matter of picking up a bunch of stitches and knitting the border. Still, I can't be buggered, so they are in hibernation, packed away in the wardrobe until heaven knows when (although Chris has started asking about the vest.

Now, for the critical knitting agenda. The Peace Fleece is burning a hole in my stash. I wanna knit something with it, so bad I can taste is, and being the greedy bugger that I am, I want to knit it for ME. I've searced projects on Ravelry, and in books, until my eyes have crossed. I love the Central Park Hoodie designed by Heather Lodinsky, and it's been resized to fit plus sizes. I would have settled on it, but I'm thinking I don't quite have enough yarn to make it. All those cables use alot of yarn, and according to the yarn recommendation, I think I would fall a skein or two short.

I have pulled out my Twisted Sister's Sweater book (a knit to fit workshop), typed up a copy of their "Fitter List" as I couldn't get it to print off well out of the book, and attempted to draw their "sweater map". (Drawing is not an accomplishment of mine...not by a long shot.) I've even had Chris "measure me up". The idea here is to design my own, and I'm flirting seriously with the idea. It would be so nice to have my own design with the Peace Fleece. I love it so, and that would just add to our connection. But I'm finding the process difficult, particularly as I keep trying to work on it when I'm half asleep. I've copied designs other words, made up a pattern from a design I had seen, but I've never designed from scratch.

One other option is a pattern I already have in a plus sized pattern book I purchased from Ebay. I love this cardi. It is simple, with only one small cable trimming the button bands. Unfortunately, the pattern is for DK (8ply) yarn, and the Peace Fleece is Worsted. Still, I could make it in a smaller size, and since the cardi is so loose fitting in the first place, it would most likely work.

While I've been wasting my time in my Peace Fleece obsession, I need to be casting on something for my newest grandson. I have the yarn (some Patons 4ply), and I have a vague plan of knitting some socks and a hat..perhaps a blankie as well. Today, by hook or by crook, I will cast on!

Still in the back of my mind, and needing to edge it's way a little closer to the frount, is a jumper I want to make for my mom for Christmas and a cardi for my mother in law, likewise for Christmas. Christmas seems so far away right now, but considering I have two large projects to tackle, and probably various smaller ones by the time I get a "Christmas Knit List" officially formulated, it's not something I need to put off for too long.

On the "fun" side of things, I have a coworker who wanted my help in figuring out what she could do with some yarn she had bought on a recent holiday to Tasmania. She knits some, but not as obsessively as I do, and wasn't sure. It's mohair, which can get confusing. I also told her I would wind it for her, and had the pleasure of bringing the beautiful stuff home and winding it on my ball winder.

I did discover that my ball winder is not terribly fond of mohair. After sorting the "tangle" issue, the second ball kept slipping off the cone when it was barely started. On my third try, I started wetting my "guide" fingers, and that did the trick.

The red and white koolaid dyed Patonyle finally got wound as well. I finally just buckled down and got after it yesterday. The first ball was the only one I had tangle troubles with. The other two wound on like a dream, so I'm ready to knit those "boaty" socks as soon as a "sock spot" opens up on my knitting agenda.

So, how confusing is all this? My knitting life right now resembles a kid with ADDH after drinking a pot of coffee. Totally out of control!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Gadgets, Gizmos and Goodies

Here I am again, sitting at this computer when I should be knitting. The living room VCR broke last night. I have one in the bedroom as well, and watched a "must see" in there this morning, but it's terribly uncomfy to sit on the bed and try to knit.

Still, I could be listening to audio books and knitting. I love my new little toy, the Sony Walkman MP-3 player. I download a audio book on there and I listen on my way to work, I listen on my breaks, I listen when I knit. It's incredibly relaxing, and handy. It fits so neatly in the knitting bag or even in my pocket! Best toy I've bought in ages!

Another interesting gadget, a gift from my darling hubby, is an LCD light, attached to straps, that fits securely on my head. It has three light settings, and its quite useful to knit by in the darkness of the car at night, at work where the lights are dim, or whereever the light source isn't great. The light trains right on the knitting, so it doesn't disturb others around you. I figure it will really come in handy in July when Chris and I go to Bendigo for the Sheep and Wool show. We'll be gone for 5 or 6 days, and we have a tendency to not observe the same bedtime, so I can read or knit by this light and not disturb him if I want to stay up past his bedtime.

The wool winder is seeing plenty of action, although I checked myself a bit. I was ripping off every lable and vigerously winding anything that was in a skein, but then I got to thinking about it. Really, I'm better off waiting until I'm ready to knit with a certain yarn before winding the balls. The value of the yarn will decrease as soon as the ball band is pulled off. So if I decided, down the track, that I wanted to sell it or trade it, I wouldn't be as likely to get a good deal.

Of course, those rules don't apply to the yarn I have dyed. They long ago lost their ball band. I wound the blue/green Te Awa that I dyed in my last dying excursion. I wasn't sure that all 200g's of it would fit on the wool winder. It did, but barely. I really love the play of colors of the wound ball as much as I did in the skein, which is rare for me.

Then there's the red and white splash dyed Patonyle, also a product of that last "dyeing day". I have three skeins of that, but I skeined them, if you remember, on the back of my kitchen table chairs, and did a very bad job of it. Consequently, the mess you see before you here is the natural consequence.

I didn't even try to put the "skein" , as is, on the winder. I attempted, in a moment of optimism, to first wind it correctly on the skein winder/holder. Now, I have a massive tangled mess, but I'm working my way thru the tangles, slowly but surely, a few minutes here and there. Slowly for my good humours sake, and surely because I've (almost) decided that my next sock project will be the "boat socks" I'd planned on making with this yarn.

But the good news about this mess is that it occured to me that in the future, when I want to buy yarn already in a ball, such as the Heirloom Easy Care I've already purchased, for the purpose of dyeing, I can now skein it on my skein winder/holder, making a perfect skein that, after dyeing, will fit right back on to be wound with no further difficulties. SEE, there's a silver lining after all!!

The only addition to my stash in the past few days are three balls of bright red Cleckheaton Merino Spun. I found a pattern for a Cabled Bag/Purse, done with chunky yarn. I saw this on sale at NeedleNook and figured it was perfect for the job.


Heaven only knows when I'll get started on it, but one mustn't let a bargain slip her by.

I've made some progress on the "Sacrifice Socks" I'm making for Chris. I know I have, but it seems woefully insignificant progress compared to the effort I have put into it.

In comparison, after knitting mainly socks for the last couple of months, where progress is slow and hard to come by, it's refreshing to have the more or less instant gratification of the "Short Row" scarf project. The Noro is still driving me batty, but it's so wonderful to actually be able to see it growing before my eyes, and I reckon I'm almost 1/3rd of the way through it now :) I will make this pattern again!

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Now, my mission for the next day or so is to get my act together and find something to knit up for my new grandson. Nothing else is urgent in comparison, so really, I can lay everything else down when I find that perfect something.