Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 Wrap Up

I have a little vacation. Four days off. No kids until 2011. This was a surprise. I thought I'd have them today and start the regular routine on Monday, but vacation days for parents frees me up to get my life in order for the new year and to do some major book reading and movie watching, relaxing and new year planning.

So a little review of how the resolutions of 2010 went.

1. No joining in on knit alongs.

I didn't join in any knit alongs until December, when I started the Advent Scarf. Don't regret it. I had plenty of time as I did no Christmas knitting. I haven't finished it yet but am making good progress and will probably have it done in the next two weeks. It is beautiful.

2. No knitting bags.

Nope haven't even thought about it. I think I am over this.

3. Taking only classes for items I am interested in.

Took a toe up sock class (great) and the Diamond and Pearls shawl also great and probably the most difficult thing I have knit so far.

4. Stop impulse buying.

I have to work on this. I did well all year, only buying for projects I was working on. Then the December Knit Picks sale happened and I succumbed to temptation and ordered more yarn that I really don't "need".

5. Keep to my list of queued items and not get sidetracked by new projects.

Kept to this fairly well which was why I allowed myself a knit along in December.

6. Improve my knitting, try new techniques, immerse myself in technique.

I'm working on this. Got to color work late in the year and will continue in 2011. Did more lace knitting and am learning a lot, improving my skills.

Reach my goal weight and read more. Not so much.

I am still struggling with the weight. The new program at WW has allowed me to reclaim my 15 pounds and hopefully this will continue. I actually read less this past year than last ( by 2 books).

What I accomplished in 2010:

2 Stuffed animals for kids

5 Sweaters

5 hats

3 shawls

7 pairs of socks

2 afghans

2 scarfs

I knitted 13.8 miles of yarn. Two projects were completed from very old stash yarn and eight from newer yarn that was re-purposed, or used up odds and ends from older projects.

So for 2011 here are the knitting resolutions:

1. Continue with culling out the stash and knitting from it. I had the rule of no new yarn until 10 items were finished and kept to it well. This year I will continue to knit from the stash. I am going to go through all the stash this weekend and prioritize projects.

2. Organize projects by quarters. I will have all the projects I want to complete for the first quarter of 2011 separated with their patterns and ready to grab and go. The first thing for the first quarter is to finish the Advent Scarf and DH's socks.

3. In conjunction with resolution #2, no new yarn for the first quarter of 2011.

4. Any new projects that need yarn, I want to buy yarn from indie dyers and independents. I want to be a little more adventurous with my yarn purchases. I won't do much of this, as I have plenty of yarn in my stash, but I want to have the oooh factor working when I get yarn.
Other things to work on:

1. Stop wasting time in the morning. I get up at 6:00am and usually spend this time on the internet. I usually check out blogs and comments from the groups on Ravelry that I am a member of and suddenly I fall down the rabbit hole and 3 hours have disappeared. I should be using this time for reading and knitting, or getting something accomplished.

2. Stop wasting food. I have been better at using up food, especially produce that gets overlooked until it goes bad. I want to continue with this and extend a little by doing better planning meals and buying only what I need at the grocery store.

3. Really embrace the new Weight Watcher plan and get to my goal weight and stay there.

4. Read more and include one piece of classic literature (Dickens, Dumas, and Austen come to mind) every quarter.
I love the start of new year and the idea of 365 days to fill with the things and people I love.

Monday, December 27, 2010

A Little After-Christmas Glow

The kids will be here all week so we will be busy and tired! We had a wonderful Christmas, with lots of eating and playing with new toys, and gadgets, wearing of new clothes and general togetherness. I say it constantly, how did I do all of this when I was working full time? I get crazy now when I have all this free time and it takes all my energy to get everything finished.
This year we actually had to make time for the kids to come over and do the Christmasy things, like making gingerbread men and women and making the Christmas graham cracker village. We usually do them on the weekend before Christmas, but we went to the BPO Christmas concert instead, so had to make up the time during the week.
I assembled the houses ahead of time, since it is fiddly and the kids can't wait to start the decorations before the houses are completely dry.
Let the decorating begin!
Quite the mess!
But the finished project and the quality time - priceless!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

After the Solstice and Before Christmas

Well, I am finally in a Christmasy mood. Presents are wrapped, trees are up and decorated,

(this is the kids tree in the den that has a Fisher Price nativity set and a train running around it, totally kid friendly)

cookies are made, (there are Pecan Tassies, Hello Dolly bars, pizzelles, cuidati aka Italian Fig cookies, gingerbread, jam thumbprints, Mexican wedding cakes and cutouts.

Christmas dinner is made and in the freezer and all is right with my world. We had two of the grandchildren over yesterday for an evening of cookie making and pizza and wing eating. When I told the littlest granddaughter that we were going to make gingerbread men, she asked, "Why not gingerbread ladies?". Bless her little feminist heart. I feel I have made a mark as another generation of little girls fights for gender equality.
We went a little crazy with the frosting!

Here is a picture of decorated men and ladies. We had lots of fun, made a big mess and when we took them home we oohed and ahhed over the decorated houses and had a fun contest counting lighted Christmas trees.
I am on day 5 of the Advent scarf and am really enjoying the various beautiful lace patterns the designer picked for this project. I probably won't get this done by the end of the year much less Christmas, but no worries, it is a great project that I will finish in the beginning of the new year.
We have passed the day my DH hates the most, winter solstice (although I really love the dark, cozy time) and are now on the other side to brighter, sunnier days!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Some Finished, Some Not So Much

This is the Fake Fair Isle hat using the fair isle technique described in the Philosopher's Wool website. Works really well to make a nice woven fabric with no loops on the back. The only thing I would do differently is use a 2x2 ribbing rather than the 1x3 called for. It's bitterly cold and snowy today, so it's going to get it's first wearing when I pick up the littlest granddaughter at school today.

I'm having a much better time knitting the Advent scarf now that I am using Knit Pick's Gloss. I'm on day 4 and may get it done before I have to leave today. No, I am not going to try to catch up. I am just enjoying the knitting. It will be a bit bigger than I expected but that is all to the good. Plus I get to read all the posts and learn by other's mistakes or misreading of the pattern.
Since this project needs concentration and quiet, I needed a simple one to use for TV knitting.

Two summers ago I made the Lizard Ridge afghan out of Plymouth Boku and had lots of little bits of yarn left. I weighed it and there were over 250 grams, which translated into more than enough for the Noro 1x1 ribbed scarf that has been all the rage. I have read about it in so many blogs and people were rapturous about it. So I began. And now I know what all the shouting was about. It is absolutely addicting. I find myself mesmerized by the way the colors morph into other colors. I am not trying to match the two balls I am knitting with. I kind of randomly

pick out the next ball and spit splice it on. No matter what I choose, the colors seem to go together, or show each other off beautifully. It is like magic.

Monday, December 6, 2010


There is not much to show on the knitting front today, so I have added some snow pictures. We are north of the city, so weren't effected much by the lake effect snow last week that stranded motorists on the Thruway for 24 hours. We had about 3 or 4 inches and the streets were clear. Just enough to have some fun in the backyard with the grands while the parents shopped on Saturday. Grandson #1 made a diorama on the picnic table with soldiers and sticks. Today, and all this week according to the weather reports, we are going to get more snow ending with a snow storm on Sunday. Right now it's steady, but light-clinging to the branches of the pines and making everything look Christmasy .

I am moving right along on hubby's first knitted socks. And the Fake Fair Isle hat has been a learning experience. I believe I now get the "Philosopher's Wool" technique of knitted with two colors and creating a woven fabric on the wrong side. No more long strands to catch fingers! I highly recommend the video on their site, beautifully explained.

So while I was reading through posts on the Knitting Lace a-z group in Ravelry (one of my favorite enabling sites for lace patterns) There was mention of two advent mystery knitting projects. Two lace scarves with 24 clues appearing one each day of December. An advent calendar you can wear.

Now, one of my resolutions this year was to not fall down the rabbit hole of KAL's and I've completely kept this resolution, even thought the Knitmore girls Cece cardigan has sorely tempted me. I have been good and weeded through my stash getting rid of old yarn, knitting up items that have been languishing for years and generally not buying yarn for new projects until 10 items have been completed.

So I figured since I was actually looking for something to make out of some lace weight yarn I have in my stash, this would be a great project. The first clue was an easy start that gave a pretty edging the spacer rows were completed without beads, as I want to wear this with my new coat and beads would feel cold on my neck. All was right with my world.

The clue for the second day done me in. It is a lily of the valley type section with nupps. Now I have made many garments with bobbles without a problem. But I found this section completely baffling. I knit and re-knit it twice. Then ripped back the entire piece and started over. Got to the second pattern and gave up. The rows didn't turn out right as far as count and the appearance was less then stellar.

Thinking there was an error in the directions, I logged on to the group and scanned the pictures people had posted of their completed work. By this time, of course I was days behind and had spent the better part of Saturday frogging, reknitting and getting frustrated.

No, no errors and beautiful pictures of three or four completed sections. It was me. I have never been so flummoxed. I ripped the whole thing out and put the yarn away, thinking I just couldn't get it.

Of course, I couldn't leave it there. A lot of the knitters were using fingering weight, instead of lace weight. The yarn I was using was alpaca, slippery and hairy. Maybe I should try fingering weight. So on Sunday I sat down with some white sock yarn, cast on 87 stitches, and went through the second pattern, marking each repeat with stitch markers. What a difference! I was able to complete the nupps perfectly and the pattern finally made sense to me. Of course I don't have 1000 yards of fingering weight in gray in my stash, so I placed an order for some KnitPick Gloss this morning. I will be hopelessly behind, but so what. It is a beautiful scarf, another good learning experience and I will have a new scarf for the new year. Win, win, win!

I should know better than to try lace without stitch markers.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Knitting Much?

So Thanksgiving is over and the Christmas season is well underway and I can't believe how little I've blogged. So this post is a catch -up and I might even get to knitting.

The turkey went in the oven by 8:00 am at 325 degrees. By 3:00, I was hyperventilating, again, about it not being done. I was anticipating it out of the oven at that time and everything else going in to heat up. It came out about a half hour later and was done but after slicing, we saw pockets of underdone spots that I recooked in the microwave (just to be sure). We made up 7 pounds of mashed potatoes and had way too much. Two packages of bread cubes with 1 1/2 pounds of sausage and lots of dressing. Like to reheat it the next day with turkey and gravy-----turkey mush, as we call it. Didn't run out of any vegetable but didn't have a lot left over. Need to make 2 chocolate pies next year, the kids really like it and fight over it, with none left over. Otherwise a comfortable number of pies with lots to take home and 4 pieces left over for us to enjoy. All in all a very successful dinner, with lots of laughing, talking and family togetherness. Perfect.

The turkey carcass had so much meat left on it that was very difficult to remove, so on Friday I put it in the stock pot and made a very rich, thick soup. We have enough for three more meals, at least. I froze it with out pasta. I cooked the pasta separately and put it in the hot soup rather than cooking it with the soup. Came out very firm and delish, not mushy like it sometimes does.

The kids came over on Saturday and we dug out all the decorations and started to get in the Christmas mood. For some reason I'm having a real hard time with that. I shopped on Monday and Tuesday and cybershopped Tuesday and Wednesday and am pretty much done.

I picked out buttons for the purple mock cable sweater and had it blocking on Thanksgiving, so it was done but not worn.

Here it is unblocked. I was worried that blocking would flatten out the cables, since they were formed just by a knit and purl pattern, not regular twisted stitches, but the sweater has been in my bin and pulled out and put back so much over 3 years that it really needed a good cleaning. So I soaked it, gently blocked it and shut the door on it and made Thanksgiving dinner. On Monday when I opened the craft room door, the sweater was blocked beautifully and ready for its buttons. It still retained the cable detail I was afraid blocking would remove.

This is a mid-thigh length sweater and fits very well. I will take an outdoor picture when I sew on the buttons that will, hopefully, show the detail better.