Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Out With the Old and In With the New

With 2010 drawing to a close and January 1st just a few days away, I’ve been giving some thought to my knitting goals for 2011.  I ended up feeling well enough after all to knit Alison’s slippers and finish sewing Morgan’s doll clothes before Christmas so I am beginning the new year with more or less a clean slate.  As I look back at my list of knitting goals for last year I am happy to see that I was able to meet many of them, the most important of which was to finish the Great American Aran Afghan in time for my parents’ anniversary.  However, despite my best intentions, I did not “let it go” as much as I would have wished.  Even though I generally limited myself to only one SKA project each month, I found myself involved in other KAL’s and pushing myself to meet their deadlines.  In the process I put off (yet again) knitting many other projects I have wanted to knit for a while.  As a result, this year it’s all about the queue.

Drum roll please…

1.  Limit my involvement in organized KAL’s.  I will continue to participate in Chrissy Gardiner’s CSK and attempt to knit each month’s new pattern but with no fixed deadline I can work at my own pace.  I may join in other KAL’s as the spirit moves me but my goal is to avoid overcommitting to arbitrary deadlines.

2.  Cut back on yarn clubs.  There are so many yarn clubs out there that entice me but like KAL’s they prevent me from knitting other projects.  I am currently enrolled in two bi-monthly clubs and will likely participate in the next tea version of “Sip ‘n Stitch” but so far I have resisted joining any other upcoming clubs for this year (even though they sound really good).

3. Participate in the Stash and Burn “Sock Stash Knitdown”.  While at first glance this appears to contradict Goal #1, this KAL is extremely flexible. with its sole objective to use up twelve skeins of sock yarn in 2011.  I’ve decided to take it a step further and have matched up yarns with sock patterns I’ve long admired but have never knit.  So far I have almost thirty combinations from which to choose but I am committing myself to knitting only twelve over the course of the next year; if I knit more than that, it’s a bonus.

4.  Knit two pairs of socks for Cameron before the end of winter.  I gave him yarn for Christmas with this intention.  Otherwise…

5.  Engage in more selfish knitting.  It’s okay to give non-knitted gifts.  Lots of people do it.

6.  Knit more sweaters.  I say this every year but this time I mean it. 

7  Knit more shawls.  There are so many beautiful shawls and I want to knit them all.

8.  Buy less yarn.  I have a lot of beautiful yarn and I should be knitting it instead of acquiring more.  I’m not going “cold sheep” or declaring myself on a yarn diet but I will try to be more conscientious about my purchases.

In a nutshell, the objective this year is to get more joy from my hobby by limiting deadline knitting and casting on more of those “must-knits” from my imaginary queue.  While I will most likely always do some gift knitting because I enjoy it I will try to balance it with some “selfish” knitting.  After all, as I keep reminding myself, knitting is supposed to be fun. 

Monday, December 20, 2010

Good to Go

Well, good enough, anyway.

The tree is up, the cards have been mailed, most of the presents are wrapped, and as of about an hour ago the knitting is done.

Knitting 1972

Liz’s slippers have been felted, soled, and wrapped and Cameron’s socks have been bound off, soaked, and blocked.  They should be dry in a day or two—I will be hanging them over the heat register whenever Cameron is not around. 

I know he will be pleased to receive them.  A day or two after I blogged last he mentioned that new socks would make a perfect gift, although he was careful to note that with all the other things I had to do that he did not expect them until after Christmas.  I smiled inwardly—little did he know I already had a pair for him half knit.  I’ve also wrapped up two skeins of sock yarn with the promise that I’ll knit them up in the new year.  After several years of trying to convert him, Cameron is finding out for himself that handknit, wool socks are warmer than the cotton sports socks he is used to wearing.  He says he does not even need to turn on the space heater in his office when he is wearing them. 

I haven’t touched Alison’s slippers and mostly likely won’t for several weeks.  Nor have I finished sewing Morgan’s doll clothes but I’ve made enough that she won’t miss them and her birthday is coming up in a little more than a month so I can give the remainder to her then.  The last few weeks have been full with Christmas preparations, family visits, and social outings and I’ve reached saturation point.  To top it all off, I woke up with the beginnings of a cold this morning, the consequence of cuddling a sick Andrew last week.  Except for a few last-minute jobs, as far as I’m concerned I’m about as ready as I’m going to be.  My best effort is going to have to be good enough.

It’s unlikely that I will blog again before Christmas so I’d like to take this opportunity to wish you a happy and healthy holiday season.  Don’t forget to make some time for yourself in the hectic days to come!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Year of the Slipper

Unselfish knitting continues…

Last week I washed up a bunch of “handwash only” socks and noticed that Cameron had added a few pairs to the pile.  He usually wears white sports socks and reserves his handknit, woolen ones for really cold weather so I was surprised to see them, considering that he only pulled them out once the snow and bitter winds had disappeared and the rain and warmer temperatures had returned.  It got me thinking that maybe it was time to knit him another pair.  Why not make them for Christmas? 

I know, I know, I’m crazy to put more pressure on myself but Christmas ideas for him are hard to come by.  And I chose a simple,  easy-to-memorize stitch pattern, just interesting enough to keep me engaged.

Knitting 1971

They’re actually working up pretty quickly, considering that a) I haven’t had a ton of time for knitting lately and b) I can only work on them when he’s not around.

And just when I thought I was finished with slippers for a while a couple of things happened.  First, my sister, Alison, happened to mention that she was in need of some new ones.  I told her I had just knit four pairs and was slippered out but would knit her some in the new year and she was totally down with that.  Then my sister-in-law, Liz, gave Cameron her Christmas list and the second item on it was slippers. 

Now, to be fair, she did not ask specifically for felted slippers but she did mention that she had worn through the ones I’d made her a few years back so I knew that she liked and wore them.  Knowing I could knit a pair over the course of a couple of days, I determined her size and asked her what colour she’d like.  And while I was at it, I got Alison to pick out some yarn for hers and placed an order with Elann.com. 

Not only do they carry the suede soles from Fiber Trends, their Highland Wool is a good value and comes in lots of pretty colours.  I’d given it a test run with Ed’s slippers and it felted really nicely.  The best part is that I receive my shipments from them only two days after I place my order which means I didn’t have to fit in another shopping trip.  This arrived this morning, right on cue.

Knitting 1970

I never get tired of the sight of stacks of unknit skeins of yarn—I think it’s the possibility it implies.

I warned Alison that I still may not get to her slippers until after the holidays but I have a feeling that I will end up powering through them, just to get them off my plate.  That will make a total of six pairs this year, the most I’ve knit at one time since I first made the pattern four years ago.  Needless to say, they’re a hit.

I’m now attaching suede soles to every pair I make in the hopes that it will significantly extend its life.  With any luck it will be a good while before there is another “Year of the Slipper”.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Whatever Happened to Selfish Knitting Month?

Well, it lasted about five minutes.  Okay, maybe a little longer but suffice it to say that November didn’t really turn out as planned.

It got off to a good start when I cast on Nuppy Diamonds, November’s installment of Chrissy Gardiner’s CSK. 

Knitting 1916 

After working a few inches on that I put it aside and cast on Liesl with some beautiful Punta yarn I’d bought early in the new year. 

Knitting 1937

I might have also cast on a pair of plain, vanilla socks.  I had a bad case of startitis and I was enjoying it.

A few days later a certain someone who shall not be named…cough, Jessica, cough…called and said she was in a time crunch and could I please test-knit something for her asap.  Well, what are mothers for?  I sighed and turned my attention to her project, all the while gazing longingly at my other WIP’s.  (It’s all done now but it’s super-secret so I can’t show you any pictures.) 

Meanwhile, my brother-in-law, Joe, requested a new pair of felted slippers for Christmas.  He’d loved the ones I’d knitted him two years before but had worn holes in the soles and had had to resort to a pair of store-bought.  I hadn’t planned to do any more gift knitting but I’d made that decision before I’d received Joe’s Christmas list.  How could I refuse?  I’m a sucker for people who really appreciate my knitted gifts. 

While I was buying yarn for Joe’s slippers I picked up some for myself since I’d recently noticed some holes in my own pair.  And while I was at it I might as well knit Cameron a new pair—his slippers were practically falling apart and the yarn for a new pair had been sitting in a bag beside the couch for months and months.  Every time I saw it I felt guilty. 

Sigh…add three pairs of slippers to the list.  Okay, one pair was for me but it’s one of the few projects I knit for the product, not the experience, and it always feels like a chore.  It definitely does not qualify as selfish knitting.

Not long after I began knitting Joe’s slippers Cameron received a Christmas list from our brother-in-law, Ed.  You guessed it, it included a request for a pair of felted slippers since his pair had also developed holes. 

Now, technically Cameron has Ed’s name for Christmas and I am only responsible for gifting to Joe but Ed has a special place in my heart.  He has had my name for Christmas for the past two years (and, as luck would have it, has my name again this year) and has bought me knitting stuff!!  Two years ago he even went so far as to phone one of the indie dyers I’d mentioned and ask her for yarn recommendations.  Obviously, he is truly worthy of a knitted gift, even if I didn’t draw his name.

So…make that four pairs. 

Knitting 1957

As I wove in the last stitch on the last slipper I swear I heard angels singing.

By the way, from now on all the slippers I knit will include leather soles in the hopes that they will last longer.  With any luck I will only have to replace them every few years.

In addition to Christmas knitting I have also been doing some Christmas sewing but this has been a labour of love.  Morgan’s dolls are sorely in need of clothes so I have been stitching up an entire wardrobe.

Knitting 1966

I still have a few more outfits to go.  Come Christmas, her dolls should be among the best dressed in town.

So with all of this and Andrew’s birth too, there hasn’t been a lot of time for selfish knitting but I have managed to squeeze in a few things.  I’ve finished one Nuppy Diamond sock

Knitting 1955

and Liesl.  It was a nice, quick knit but I’m having trouble finding just the right thing to wear with it.

Knitting 1962

Sorry for the crappy photo—the weather’s been dreary lately plus my good camera is in the shop.

I’ve also been working on a set of winter accessories.  It all started with spotting a pair of red gloves in the Fall 2009 issue of Vogue Knitting.  I had the perfect yarn for them, Madelinetosh Tosh Sock in “Tart”.  Then I realized that one of the cones of yarn I’d bought in San Francisco had the same red and black tones and would make a great matching triangular scarf.  And if I was going to make gloves and a scarf, I might as well knit a hat to go with them.  I tracked down some Madelinetosh Vintage in the same colourway (not easy to find, as it turns out) for a slouchy beret.

Knitting 1959  

Sadly, I don’t expect that December will yield much time to work on them.  We are expecting houseguests from both sides of the family this weekend and will be caught up in the various activities family visits involve.  Then, of course, with Christmas approaching, we’ll be busy with holiday preparations and social events.

Therefore, it looks like Selfish Knitting Month is going to have to be postponed until January.  We plan to kick it off with another weeklong getaway right after New Years, location still to be determined.  There are so many things I want to knit I’m not sure how I’ll decided what to take along with me.  I can’t wait for the chance to knit undisturbed for an extensive block of time, without thinking about all the things I should be doing instead.

Which reminds me, I have a house that needs cleaning so it’s time to sign off… 

I hope you’re finding some time for selfish knitting.