Monday, January 18, 2010

It’s That Time Again

I’ve felt a bit unsettled since New Year’s.  I’ve done some reflecting on last year’s knitting goals and accomplishments and have been thinking about my plans for 2010 but I haven’t had a chance to organize my thoughts and commit them to writing until now.  Even though January is already more than half over, I won’t feel as though the year has truly begun until I do.

Last year I made a rather lengthy but perfectly achievable list of goals for 2009.  Although I did meet many of my objectives for 2009, like knitting a sweater from start to finish, reorganizing my stash, and completing some WIP’s, I also failed to meet some others.  Despite my intention to knit more from stash and cut back on yarn purchases, my stash definitely increased again this year.  And, unfortunately, I did not finish the Great American Aran Afghan in time for Christmas, having lost interest sometime around July.  But instead of feeling guilty about it languishing half-finished under the bed, I took Goal #10 to heart and simply set myself a new deadline.

Which brings me to my goals for 2010.  

1.  Finish the GAAA by July 1st, in time for my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary.  There are twenty-some-odd weeks between now and then and twelve blocks to go—no sweat.

2.  For the most part, limit my SKA projects to one per month in order to free up time to knit other projects.  With so many choices each month it’s hard to resist doing one in each category.

3.  Knit every SKA mystery sock this year.  The designs are usually excellent and it doesn’t hurt to go out of my comfort zone and give up a little control now and then.

4.  Make a point of using my sock books.  I’ve owned Sock Innovation for almost a year and haven’t knit a pair from it yet.

5.  Finish some of my sweaters-in-progress, like Twigs and Leaves, the Tangled Yoke Cardigan, and Fylingdales.  I recently completed the February Lady Sweater and the Mondo Cable Cardigan and have enjoyed wearing them.  I’d like to wear more of my sweaters.

6.  Spread out gift knitting (mainly socks) over the course of the year.  I did this in 2009 and it worked out great.

7.  Embrace the stash.  I love yarn.  I love to buy yarn.  I can afford to buy yarn.  Then why feel guilty about something that gives me so much pleasure?  This year I am not setting any moratorium on buying yarn.  While I do have plans to knit more from my stash because there are some beauties in there that are calling my name, I will continue to buy yarn as the spirit moves me, guilt-free.

8.  Spend more time knitting and less time reading about knitting.  I’ve already begun putting this into practice.  As much as I love Ravelry and my favourite knitting blogs they can really suck up the time.  Although I will continue to follow my favourite threads and blogs, I will be scanning more and chatting less.     

9.  Blog when I feel like it.  Last year I set a goal to blog at least once a week, putting undue pressure on myself.  The truth is I am not a once-a-week blogger.  Sometimes I am a three-times-a-week blogger and sometimes I am a once-a-month blogger.  You get what you get.  No apologies.

10.  Let it go.  Other than setting a specific deadline for finishing the GAAA and participating in the SKA monthly challenges (which I love), my intention this year is to be less regimented when it comes to my hobby.  In 2010 I am going worry less about meeting other people’s expectations or my own self-imposed knitting deadlines; instead, I am going to go with the flow and knit and buy and blog what I want when I want.  Something tells me this is going to be the hardest goal of all.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Thank You, Mr. Postman

It has been a good mail week chez Knitsnpurls. 

Two parcels arrived while we were away.  One came from WEBS and was full of Regia sock yarn. 

Knitting 1291Many of the people who I knit for prefer basic, washable socks so I took advantage of their clearance sale on discontinued colours and stocked up.

The other parcel contained something much less practical and much more exciting, the latest shipment from Woolgirl’s “Embrace the Lace” club.

Knitting 1284This time the theme was “Love”, represented by a luscious skein of superfine alpaca yarn from Curious Creek Fibers to be made into a cowl designed by Leila Wice.  The kit also included a Namaste Buddy Case, an organza project bag, a stitch marker, and some tea and honey sticks.  As usual, the presentation was impeccable. 

A few days into the new year I learned that I was one of the lucky winners of SKA’s November sockdown.  I won a skein of sock yarn of my choice from String Theory Yarn.  My Caper Sock in the “Spruce Head” colourway arrived on Wednesday. 

Knitting 1293It reminds me a lot of Casbah, one of my favourite sock yarns, and is even prettier in real life than it looks on the website.

Wednesday also brought an additional treat, a skein of sock yarn from Barking Dog Yarns

Knitting 1297 I’d been admiring the “End of Summer” colourway for a while, so when it went on sale I snatched it up.  Suzan told me she will be introducing a new sock yarn and also three lines of laceweight to her shop soon.

On Friday the mail van made yet another stop at my house, bringing more sock yarn.

Knitting 1313 I ordered the Shibui to combine with a bright skein of Socks That Rock in a stranded knitting pattern, possibly Chrissy Gardiner’s  Windowpane Socks.  While I was at it I ordered the Smooshy in “Chinatown Apple”.

January must be my lucky month.  Yesterday morning I learned that I had won two prizes in an Embrace the Lace contest: two skeins of Lobster Pot baby camel and six patterns by Jolene Treace. 

With all these exciting packages it’s like Christmas all over again.  I might just start calling the mailman Santa Claus.     

Thursday, January 14, 2010

A Knitting Lesson

I don’t usually post twice on the same day (heck, sometimes I don’t even post twice in the same month!) but I couldn’t wait to share my solution to obtaining a jogless jog in an alternating multiple-row/single-row striped pattern when knitting in the round.

I’ve been knitting a pair of striped pedicure socks called “Peekaboo” from The Joy of Sox and have been frustrated at my inability to disguise or minimize the jog that occurs when changing colours.  Even though the colour changes are located on the sole of the socks and will therefore be hidden when the socks are worn, I have been dissatisfied with what I consider a defect in my knitting.

Knitting 1300

The sock features a two-colour sequence, five rows of Colour A followed by one row of Colour B.  As I knit the first sock I experimented with several methods of changing colours, even resorting to joining in and ending a separate strand of yarn for each single-row stripe of Colour B.  Not only did this fail to solve the problem, it also made for a lot of ends to weave in.  I searched knitting books and the internet for a solution but although I found various methods for single-row stripes or multiple-row stripes, nothing seemed to address the issue of a multi-row/single-row sequence.

As I knit the second sock my thoughts kept returning to the slipped-stitch method demonstrated in this video but I didn’t think it would work because it requires you to knit one round of the new colour before slipping the first stitch on the second round and Stripe B is only one round high.  However, with a little experimentation I came up with a modification to this method and finally achieved a jogless jog.

Here’s how it’s done:

1. After knitting the desired number of rows for Stripe A, begin Stripe B by slipping the first stitch of the next round, then knit to the end of the round with Colour B.Knitting 13092. Begin Stripe A by knitting the first stitch in Colour B,

Knitting 1303  then slip the next stitch

Knitting 1304 and knit the rest of the round in Colour A. 

Knitting 1311Note that the first two stitches will be in Colour B, while the rest of the round will be in Colour A.

3. Knit desired number of rows with Colour A.

4. Repeat Steps 1-3 with each colour change.

Voila!  Practically jogless jogs.

Knitting 1312Like the slipped stitch method demonstrated in the video, this technique means that Stripe A is one row shorter where the colour changes take place, and in this method this change is spread over two stitches instead of one.  This could be an issue in a larger garment with numerous stripes but it won’t make a significant difference in the fit of this particular project.

Now that I’ve mastered the jogless jog I’m tempted to frog the first sock and reknit it but considering that a) it’s a pedicure sock and nobody will ever see it but me, b) they’re made from leftovers, for heaven’s sake, and c) I’m ready to move onto another project, I think I’ll just finish up the second sock and keep the first as it is to remind me of a knitting lesson learned.

We Now Return to Our Regularly-Scheduled Program

The past few weeks have gone by in a blur.  After all the holiday preparation and festivities, houseguests, and our subsequent vacation, it seems as though life is finally regaining some sense of normalcy.  

This year the Christmas season was particularly busy, with some sort of family gathering taking place practically every day. Christmas morning was spent with our own family; Colin stayed over the night before, then Jessica and Neil came by for brunch later on.

December 2009 009 After stopping briefly to visit with my brother-in-law and his family we continued on to my sister’s house for Christmas dinner with my extended family. We were all thrilled to meet the newest member of the clan, my great-nephew, Jeremy, who spent the evening being passed from person to person,

December 2009 065while his older sister, Lauren, stationed herself next to the Doritos bowl.

December 2009 057 

Once again I received some wonderful knitterly gifts, including a pair of handknit socks from Jessica,

Knitting 1277

a gift certificate to one of my favourite LYS’s, sock blockers, some sock yarn, and several knitting books.

Over the course of the next week, in addition to playing host to my parents, then to my sister and brother-in-law, and finally to my mother-in-law, we gathered with various family members for numerous dinners, a birthday brunch, and New Year’s Eve celebrations.  Everybody seemed pleased with the handknit socks they received as Christmas or birthday gifts and my niece even requested a pair of her own. Another convert!  I was relieved to see that Morgan’s sweater fit her perfectly and it didn’t take any coaxing to get her to model it for me; she loves to “pose”.December 2009 046Last Monday morning Cameron and I said goodbye to the hustle and bustle and took off for a decidedly untropical island vacation. We spent three days in Ucluelet, on the west coast of Vancouver Island, and three days near Parksville, on the east coast. Rainbows seemed to follow us everywhere.

January 2010 003 January 2010 115 January 2010 120We couldn’t have asked for a more relaxing holiday. We took the occasional nature walk and even visited a couple of yarn stores but the majority of our time was spent reading and knitting and admiring our ocean views. We returned home on Sunday with our batteries recharged, ready to resume our ordinary life.

Things are still a little hectic, as they often are after a vacation, as we try to catch up on all the various things neglected in our absence.  It’s already mid-January and I have hardly given a thought to my personal and knitting goals for the new year or chosen a project for the upcoming Ravelympics.  But with any luck, by next week our days should have settled into their regular rhythms, giving me a chance to ponder these—ahem--momentous decisions.