Monday, December 19, 2005

Christmas insanity

Yes, I am insane. I decided this last night when, after spending much of the weekend baking and making fudge (as well as doing last-minute shopping and going to a Christmas party), I cast on for a hat. And this isn't just any hat. It's a Christmas-present-that-has-to-be-finished-in-4-days hat (that the recipient is not expecting). Oh, and did I mention that I still have 3 pairs of slippers to felt? And a scarf to finish? And that a NYC transit strike is looming, when we're flying to Tennessee Friday morning?

I almost had a breakdown last night thinking of it all. Then I scrapped the last batch of cookies, had husband run out and buy some Hershey's Kisses for filling up the gift boxes, and got over it. Sometimes the German martyr syndrome comes out a bit too much. It's also known as the "Martha has nothing on me but free time and lots of helpers" syndrome. I did inherit this from my mother and grandmother. I also suspect my great-grandmother was the same way, but it's a whole new ballgame when the women start working outside the home. You're expected to do all these wonderful homemaker-type things IN ADDITION TO holding down a regular job. And I don't even have children yet.

On a brighter note, I finished the first sleeve of the Charlie Brown sweater. I bought the pattern here, although I almost wish I'd charted it out myself. I like the blanket pattern, though. The sweater calls for duplicate stitch, but I think I may do intarsia, because I'm not sure I have enough yarn otherwise. I'm using Blue Sky Cotton, which is just lovely. I'm afraid of the pilling, but it's a newborn sweater, washable and soft, so it will be okay.

My plan was to take photos of all the Christmas knitting, but I'm not sure that will happen. Maybe I can take photos of the recipients trying to look pleased that they received a hat/slippers/a scarf instead of a normal gift.

Even though I've enjoyed the Christmas knitting, it will be nice to get going on new and interesting projects. Next up: gloves from Handknit Holidays for me and Saranac for husband.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Well, Christmas knitting is all but finished. No, I haven't done the holiday cards yet; I think I'm going to send out cards to a much abbreviated list of 10-15 recipients. If I'm not going to do a good job at it, I might as well not do it at all. I'm planning the cookies and fudge for co-workers--I like to do something, but nothing that makes them feel obligated. The baking will be next weekend, I think. Shopping is almost finished, but there are always the odds and ends to be purchased.

I actually enjoyed knitting most Christmas gifts this year (except the third pair of felted clogs that my husband decided his father had to have about a week ago and which are still in progress). It was nice having a goal and recipient in mind, rather than my usual "I want to try [insert new technique]" knitting. I did learn fair isle while knitting Christmas gifts, and I improved my lace knitting (and tinking back several rows, but let's not start on that). I also improved my intarsia technique, which I'll need for the baby sweater that's up next (a Charlie Brown sweater, complete with zigzag).

I finished the lace wrap Saturday and blocked it Saturday night. There are one or two mistakes where I apparently decided to skip two rows in the pattern, but it's one of those mistakes that only I will notice, really. I'll have a hard time giving this away, though. Lace is like that, I've learned.

Work has apparently slowed down, and I'm not going to work hard to get new assignments, since it's almost Christmas and I may apply for a new job soon.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Christmas Knitting

I've been working away steadily at finishing the Christmas knitting. Only the lace shawl for my mom is concerning me--in part because I foolishly took it to a group knitting event and attempted to work on it. If you've ever done it, you know what happened (what always happens when lace and lack of concentration combine). I fucked up. My stitch count is off. And I think it's bad enough that I need to try running an after-the-fact lifeline a few rows down, then rip it out. I can't look at it for a day or two more, so I'm going to start on Saturday and finish this thing this weekend, I hope.

Meanwhile, I've been using some gifts to practice fair isle. I made one hat for my dad with a simple motif, but it was terrible. So I tried again, making a small bag from Handknit Holidays, then a second hat for dad. Both turned out very well, and my technique is getting much better. It's still not good enough for a complicated fair isle, but it's getting there. I'm holding both yarns in my right hand, because I have serious issues trying to hold the yarn in my left. My thought is, why do something that's uncomfortable, when you can master a technique that builds on skills you already have?

The technique I'm using is described in Sally Melville's third book. Definitely a helpful resource for a colorwork beginner. Next up is, hopefully, a book of fair isle motifs.

Over Christmas, I plan to work on a baby sweater and some gloves for me, I think. Then it's on to a sweater for my husband and a lace shawl for me.

The new Knitty is a mixed bag for me. I think Bamboozelle is a nice use of bamboo yarn. Hemp might also be an interesting choice for this design. I also really like Bristow, something that I plan to knit in the not-too-distant future. It's a classic design that is a cut above many of the sweaters in Knitty, I think. There are several others I am fairly indifferent to, though I've seen Tubey in person, and it's an interesting design that I could see myself knitting--without stripes.

On the other hand, there's this. Can anyone tell me why this was published? I'm tired of the overuse of bobbles, and did the designer actually knit a gauge swatch, or is this a project gone awry? I'm sure it's fashionable, but I would never waste yarn on it. A little less enormous, with the addition of a front and back and the deletion of the bobbles, this might be an okay bed jacket type garment, but its current form is just terrible.

I'm still waiting for Interweave and, hopefully, Spin Off, but I'm not holding my breath. I wasn't impressed with the Interweave preview, but I hope it looks better once I get the magazine.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Christmas knitting is almost finished. I started out with what I believed was a long list of items to complete, but either I'm knitting more quickly, or I've just been neglecting all sorts of things to knit. The latter is more likely.

It's gone so quickly that I've added a few more things to the list, quick knitted gifts for people who might not appreciate it as much. I still anticipate a push to get it all finished at the end, but we'll see. I'm most dreading the lace stole for my mom. It's not that it's terribly difficult, but I can only work at it for an hour or two at a time. I did get some great knitting in during Monday Night Football, because both my husband and I were tense that the Colts were playing a big game.

The lace is a 20-row repeat from Barbara Walker's first stitch collection. I've adopted the note cards method for this one, since I was both (a) too lazy to chart it out and (b) of the belief that a stole with no shaping really didn't need a chart. I wrote two rows on each note card, then punched a hole in the top left corner and joined them together with a binder ring. It's worked surprisingly well, and I'll probably use it on similar projects in the future.

Tomorrow, it's off to Karen's for a holiday knitting party!