Tuesday, December 30, 2008

2008: Year in Review (Techniques)

Bold for stuff you’ve done, with an asterisk for things done for the first time in 2008
italics for stuff you plan to do in 2009, and
normal for stuff you’re not planning on doing.

Afghan/Blanket (baby)
American/English knitting (as opposed to continental)
Baby items (finishing anyway)
Button holes
Cable stitch patterns (incl. Aran)

Charity knitting
Continental knitting
Cuffs/fingerless mitts/arm warmers
Designing knitted garments
Domino knitting (modular knitting)
Drop stitch patterns*
Dying with plant colors
Dying yarn
Fair Isle knitting
Freeform knitting
Garter stitch

Graffiti knitting
Hair accessories
Holiday related knitting
Household items (dishcloths, washcloths, tea cozies…)*
Kitchener BO
Knitting a gift
Knitting a pattern from an online knitting magazine
Knitting and purling backwards
Knitting art
Knitting for a living
Knitting for pets
Knitting for preemies
Knitting in public
Knitting items for a wedding
Knitting on a loom
Knitting smocking
Knitting socks (or other small tubular items) on two circulars
Knitting to make money
Knitting with alpaca
Knitting with bamboo yarn*
Knitting with banana fiber yarn
Knitting with beads
Knitting with camel yarn
Knitting with cashmere*
Knitting with circular needles
Knitting with cotton*
Knitting with dog/cat hair
Knitting with DPNs
Knitting with linen
Knitting with metal wire
Knitting with recycled/secondhand yarn
Knitting with self-patterning/self-striping/variegating yarn
Knitting with silk*
Knitting with someone else’s handspun yarn

Knitting with soy yarn
Knitting with synthetic yarn
Knitting with wool

Knitting with your own handspun yarn*
Lace patterns
Long Tail CO

Machine knitting
Mittens: Cuff-up*
Mittens: Tip-down
Moebius band knitting
Norwegian knitting
Olympic knitting (didn't get around to it this year)
Participating in a KAL
Publishing a knitting book
Short rows
Slip stitch patterns

Socks: toe-up
Socks: top-down
Steeks* (WOO HOO!)
Stockinette stitch
Stuffed toys
Swatching (though making this a habit should be a goal for 2009)

Teaching a child to knit
Teaching a male how to knit
Textured knitting
Thrummed knitting
Toy/doll clothing
Tubular CO
Twisted stitch patterns*
Two end knitting
Writing a pattern

I had set a goal last year of doing 17 new things, but as these things invariably go, that didn't quite come to pass. However, I did manage to accomplish a whopping 11 of the heretofore untried techniques including, and this was a big one, steeking! Such fun. I have 12 items I'd like to do in the coming year, several of which I'm very excited about (thrumming!) All in all it's been a pretty good year on the knitting front.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

2008: Year in Review

If 2007 was the year I got serious and got knitting, then 2008 is the year I turned into a knitting machine. Having already accomplished serious milestones of sweater knitting and such, there was very little I was not willing to try. But I ended the year having finished a whopping 39 items (one of these, as of press time was awaiting finishing, but with confidence that it will be completed in time for gifting on New Years Eve).

So what did I make this year? (Lots o' stuff!) And did I make an effort to make stuff for someone other than yours truly? (Yes and no.)

1. Enid, 2. Mittens!, 3. Dan's Noro Striped Scarf, 4. Haruha Scarf, 5. Ellen Cowl, 6. Feb Lady Sweater, 7. Leah Tunic cropped, 8. Mossy Shell Sock, 9. Renaissance Palm Cowl, 10. Hexacomb Cropped Cardigan, 11. Roped Shell, 12. Koolhaas, 13. Kiri, 14. Brompton Cardigan, 15. Clapotis, 16. Drops Jacket

Hats came out on top with 8 items, due to my designating this a hat Christmas gift year after 2007 year of the cowl. There were lots of cowls and cardigans (6 of each in fact). There were 6 wraps and scarves of varying types. There were 4 tops and tees. Add in the assorted other random items for a total of 38 finished objects this year. Not too shabby considering the monstrous scale of some of them.

I altered much of The Plan I laid out for myself at the beginning of the year, which I think is totally fine. I kept it challenging and just altered choices and dates as whim demanded. As I fell out of love with a particular pattern I was certain to find another that replaced it, which is why Buttony and the open collar pullover did not get made but the Drops Jacket and the Roped Shell did.

My goal of knitting 5 pairs of socks fell through just barely with 4 pairs completed. Quite an accomplishment since I'm not so wild about sock knitting (though I love wearing them!) Though stashbusting of sock yarn failed miserably.

The year did not start off great as far as The Plan was concerned. I quickly found that the Kauni color changes I selected for the Venezia Pullover were not what I wanted and so that project went into deep hibernation mode to be awoken this January with one strand of the blue Kauni and one strand of a solid oatmeal colored wool used instead of the yellow/brown/white (which I think might look lovely paired with the dark red wool I picked up in something like this). I also had serious attention and enthusiasm issues as far as Juno Regina was concerned. But hopefully all that will be rectified with some serious rethinking and reevaluating of projects in the New Year.

The tail end of the year was pretty awesome as far as I'm concerned. Jenn in DC and I went to our second (frigid) Rhinebeck. Oh yeah, and I bought a wheel. That'll play quite heavily into my goals for the coming year. I finished a bunch of the aforementioned major projects, proving that Venezia and Juno hadn't sucked out all my mojo. Most of all I had a lot of fun knitting. With work and family and city living driving me nuts on occasion, it was definitely a great respite from all that craziness. Here's hoping 2009 sees improvement on all fronts.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Gchat: It happened just now...

1:43 PM me: so um i started mildly freaking out last night b/c i haven't woven in the ends of dad's sweater and therefore have not washed it yet, have not started on tara and melissa's gifts
cousin danny and cousin jess are only half done
Jenn in DC: well christmas is a week away
me: and anthony's hat also needs the ends woven in
Jenn in DC: you should get a lene
me: lol yes
1:44 PM well i freaked out mainly b/c the sweater is gigantic and where will i block it at home w/o dad seeing it?
Jenn in DC: who's anthony?
me: jess and dan's younger brother
who is ryan's age
Jenn in DC: oh i didnt know they had one
block it at your house tonight
me: yes we frequently forget about him too
but i'm seeing them on saturday
i have love actually/indubitably cookie party tonight at kyra and tyler's*1:45 PM Jenn in DC: saturday two days from now?
me: yes
Jenn in DC: well when are you going to dad's house?
me: sunday
ryan is picking me up at my apt. on saturday to go to long island and then from there i go straight home
Jenn in DC: oh
yeah you have a problem
1:46 PM cant you just do it at his house in a room and tell him not to go in
me: i guess i can improvise at home in my room
but i will weave in ends when i get home tonight
Jenn in DC: so you need to find yourself an office and go knit right now**
me: i haven't been able to fall asleep before midnight all week anyway
i am not too worried about the other projects***
i will have a half day tomorrow
1:47 PM and i may skip a christmas party to stay home and knit all night
and block danny's scarf
and then i can finish jess' mitts in the car if need be
oh lordy
1:48 PM Jenn in DC: jesus
you're a mess
me: how did i get complacent???
thank GOD i didn't bake ten million cookies this year****
Jenn in DC: you thought you had this christmas thing licked
me: i did
i totally did
1:49 PM me: yes
sigh :(

* Love Actually/Indubitably Cookie Party (c): Party in which we watch Love Actually (not to be confused with Love Indubitably) the greatest Christmas movie of our time and bring cookies to eat and share. During which I will clearly not be eating cookies because I will frantically be working on Jess' gift.
** This is how Jenn gets her knitting done.
*** Yes, I am.
**** Just a batch of Sambuca Cookies, a batch of Ginger Spice Cookies, a batch of Black and White Cookies, and a batch of Florentines (which I am just this moment realizing, I sandwiched instead of leaving as described in the recipe, doh. No wonder I only have a limited number of them)... and a partridge in a pear tree.

Monday, December 15, 2008

It's the Holiday Season...

This weekend Lauren and I hosted our Annual Drink the Tree Party. It's a holiday tradition wherein friends bring little bottles of booze (nips) to decorate our tree with the idea being that we drink them at a second party held at a later date, but that typically never happens so we try to drink the tree every other year. This year was fantastic.

Pre-party, not a creature was stirring...

The tree looked totally lovely with a nice combo of legitimate ornaments as well as alcohol-filled ones. Here's one of the yarn skein ones I made up last year. Knitter Jenn from DC says her mom loves the ones I made last year, particularly the one that looks like a fetus. Happy Holidays!

Not a fetus

There was a crackling fire on the teevee.

And there were even knitwear ornaments courtesy of Knitter Jenn C. She says the use of BoSox colors was completely unintentional and she claims they're holiday colors, but Lauren loves them and begs to differ.

The only problem (if you'd even call it that) is that our fridge is still stuffed full of beer. Apparently wine and mixed drinks were more popular this year, though there is a can of PBR currently hanging from the tree.

Even in the midst of all the party prep and substantial cleanup, I managed to make serious progress on the Christmas gift front. I've got 2 cowls finished, a thorpe hat for Cousin Anthony and a noro striped scarf for Cousin Danny both at the halfway stage, and two more bulky hats to cast on once those are finito. Add that to the sweater completed for dad and the hat for my bro, and I'd say I'm doing just fine, thanks. I may have a few more crafty ideas up my sleeve as well.


Unfortunately Christmas cookies are lagging far behind, a situation not helped by the fact that both batches of cookies I made for the party were totally wiped out. So I get to make a whole bunch more tonight. Delish.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Now that that's over with...

With the major hurdle of Dad's Aran complete (and the sleeves sewn on in proper fashion), I've moved on to other projects including a big bout of finishing. This, of course, means I've got some stuff to show off!

First up is a project I had hoped to finish during NaKniSweMo, but it just didn't make it: the ubiquitous Drops Jacket.

It would've been done ages ago, but the collar gave me all kinds of issues. I finally got it just right last night and am happily sporting it today in my frigid office.

Pattern: 103-1 Drops Jacket by Garnstudio
Yarn: Malabrigo Worsted Merino in Forest
Used: 6 skeins
Needles: US 7 for body (US 6 for collar)
Modifications: There were tons of mods on this one, most were inspired by Canary Sanctuary's top down raglan version. I used Laura Chau's top down raglan instructions but added a few extra stitches to the front to account for the wider button band detail. I'll have to go back and look at my notes but it was pretty straightforward. Made 5 buttonholes on the body but will probably only end up using 3 of them. I prefer it as a swing jacket after all.

For the collar I ended up picking up every stitch around the neck and started in basketweave, keeping the first and last 2 stitches in garter stitch. Then I then increased 2 stitches at the beginning of the next two rows, followed by two rows without increases, working the increased stitches into the pattern as I went. I added a buttonhole about 4 inches up, and then continued for another 2 inches at which point I stopped increasing stitches and continued knitting for about 3 more inches. Total length of the collar is about 9 or 10 inches and it used up a full ball of Malabrigo.

My next finished project has been sitting around for ages waiting to be blocked.

Pattern: Short Rows Wavy Hat by Lee Meredith
Yarn: Briar Rose Fibers (one of the remnants I got at Rhinebeck. It's got some alpaca content and looks to be a heavy worsted/bulky weight)

Next up: Zeebee

Yarn: Karabella Soft Tweed
Used: 1.25 skeins
Needle: US 7

It's my brother's Christmas present. I picked a nice plain, tweedy looking yarn that is soft enough to be against the skin and a nice plain pattern that'll keep him warm. I think it turned out nicely. Hopefully he agrees. So that's 2 holiday knits down, just a couple more to go, since I'm taking it easy with the holiday knitting this year.

Speaking of Holidays, my roommate and I picked out our tree yesterday and it is the most delightful smelling thing ever. Made watching yesterday's abysmal performance by the Giants somewhat bearable (aided by the fact they still won the division). So my next project is to determine what holiday cookies to bake this year. Some of the Food Network 12 Days of Cookies recipes aren't terrible, but I'm not all that inspired by them either. I looked back at last year's baking and I'm going to change things up a bit this year. The Chewy Ginger Spice cookies are definitely sticking around, but I may only keep the chocolate drops and the biscotti.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Mission Accomplished!

NaKniSweMo, I owned you this year. I picked the biggest, most cabley sweater I could find and knit the heck out of it. Don't believe me? Bam! Taken at 11:30 pm on November 30:

That's right. Dad's Aran is as done as the turkey on Thursday. Or maybe the stuffing which was gone after about 15 minutes. Seriously, for some reason no matter how much my dad makes, there's never any leftovers of stuffing to go along with the leftover potatoes and turkey and pie the next day. It's some seriously delicious stuffing (my mouth is now watering and I've just eaten lunch, go figure).

Now. You may notice if you look carefully that something seems a little off with the seams on the sleeves (how's that for alliteration?) That would be because at 11:30 when I was attaching the sleeves, I somehow managed to attach them upside down so the increases run along the top of the arm to the shoulder. Ooops. Naturally, it being 11:30 at night, I did what any sensible person would do and I took this picture and said in my best Scarlett O'Hara voice "I don't want to think about that now, I'll think about it tomorrow." So I put it away to deal with this evening when I get home. I'm still quite pleased with the sweater. It's gigantic, so I'm fairly certain that despite being worsted weight yarn, it met the requisite 50,000+ stitches for NaKniSweMo. I may actually unravel the bottom and shorten it a bit since Dad's fairly short and the torso on this bad boy is way too long.

All told I probably used 8.5 skeins of the yarn so with the unravelling I could've gotten away with only 8 skeins, but definitely would not have finished before the deadline.

Pattern: Aran Sweater by Lion Brand
Yarn: Bartlett Yarn Fisherman 2-ply
Needle: US 6 and US 8
Modifications: Body and sleeves knit in the round for almost no seaming (given my issues with the sleeves this was probably a very smart move on my part!) Instead of a simple ribbed neckband, I opted to double the length of the neckband and tack it down on the reverse for a more finished look. I think it makes it look much neater and more professional. ;)

Reflections on NaKniSweMo
This was an awesome experience. Definitely gave me great motivation to get a massive project like this done in a timely manner. I doubt I would've been able to finish the sweater in time for Christmas if I hadn't participated. Though I set a lot of goals and deadlines for myself this year and met quite a few of them, it seems like all the big projects tended to trip me up (see: Juno Regina, Venezia, etc.) This definitely gave me an ego boost in the FO department.

As an added bonus, because it was knit in the round, the sheer size of this knit meant that I couldn't take it on my commute which allowed me to work on other smaller projects. I think this contributed to the ease with which I could pick up the sweater when I got home since I wasn't sick to death of it. So I also have a bunch of projects that I've either finished or made good progress on while I was working on the sweater. All in all, I'm a big fan of NaKniSweMo.