Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Let the Holiday Knitting Begin - Have you started yours yet?

Now that Thanksgiving is over, time to get in gear for all those holiday handmade gifts you committed yourself to make for your Uncle who lives on the Eastcoast, all your nephew and nieces scattered across the country, your best friend who you know will look good in one of those many great hat and scarf patterns you've been hoarding for just this time of year.

You only have 25 days before Christmas, how far have you gotten in your holiday gift making?  Me, I've been knitting non-stop for about 4 weeks and still going.  I'm one of those people who just can't say "no".  I volunteered myself to make socks for our office annual adopt-a-family, fortunately there is only three children - two girls and a boy.  The two little girls (2 and 6 years old) are getting a matching - what I call my Pippi Longstocking socks! I found this really great sock yarn that reminded me so much of the character and when I was a kid I really loved reading the stories of her many adventures - I really loved the movie version The New Adventures of Pippi Longstocking. I may be dating myself here, but it's a classic that just doesn't go out of style. Huh, I think I found another gift for my younger nieces - I bet they would get a kick out the of the movie - I hope I can find a copy of it somewhere!

Here are my version of a pair of socks I could see Pippi wearing in one of her adventures... I certainly hope the little girl that I made them for have just as many adventures while wearing them.

My Pippi Longstocking socks! Made for our office
adopt-a-family 6 year old - her 2 year old sister
will get a matching pair
I've committed myself to making socks for the kids this year (3 nieces, 4 nephews) and my one adult nephew will be getting a hat and scarf. Since learning the two-at-a-time toe up socks, I found that I enjoy making socks now. I'm even passing along my knowledge by teaching a couple of friends the method too.  I've already started a new pair for one of my nieces - I picked up this pretty sock yarn about a year ago with the idea of making socks with it of course and now that I've started them using the two-at-a-time toe-up method the kooky pattern on the yarn doesn't seem to allow me to make matching socks!  So, the pair actually will look completely different from each other - how funny is that?  Well my niece Joi, will definitely have a pair of socks that Pippi would adore - she never seemed to wear matching socks!

So how far have you gotten with your holiday gift-making?  I read this really great article on Fiber Arts - Let the sleep deprivation begin - about scouring thrift stores for knitted items to give as gifts - not a bad idea if you find yourself not able to finish your long list. Is this cheating?  Not at all, at least I don't think so, if you're lucky you can find some really unique items, including some vintage handmade knits!

This time of year is great for all those cowl, hat, scarf, mitten, glove, and sweater patterns you've been collecting to try out and give as gifts.  Some really beautiful patterns can be found on Ravelry or check out Knitting Pattern Central for those sought after cowls you've always wanted to make - not a knitter, there are patterns for the crocheter in you too at Crochet Pattern Central.  You can always visit your Local Yarn Store, they will have plenty of designs by local designers and yarn in all the wonderful colors of the season for you to choose from. 

One of the LYS - Renaissance Yarns holds classes for those new to knitting or advanced knitters who are looking to learn something new - and on their website they have some free patterns for the season like:

The Green Gable scarf by Michelle Maurer:

The Evergreen Mitts by Nancy Skorupa:

The Easy Neck Warmer by Jessica Richey:

Can also double as a headband!

Or the Cozy Slipper Socks also by Nancy, just to name a few.

So, if you haven't already started you better get going...there isn't much time left!  Well get knitting or crocheting!!!

On a side note: I finally got my new knitting motto t-shirt that a friend's boyfriend designed for me and I absolutely love it!  I think it came out really great. I wore it at work yesterday...my co-workers seemed to get a kick out of it!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Holiday shoppers were out this weekend getting their early Christmas shopping done

It was a nice surprise to see the snow coming down yesterday afternoon.  It's still coming down right now like I'm used to seeing in my old hometown of Troy, NY.  I wonder if my family has gotten any snow yet?  If they haven't this will be a first that we got snow here in Washington before them.

But this little snow blip hasn't kept the shoppers home this past weekend.  I participated in a Pre-Black Friday Holiday Bazaar, my first in about 20 years, I evolved into knitwear.  Hats and scarves are a necessity for this first snow of the season. I began knitting about 4 years ago and have found a community that is growing in popularity among the young and the old, men and women, celebrities and just the average Joe.  Knitting is no longer a lost art, it seems to be coming back into fashion [Knitting: not your grandmother's hobby].

The Bazaar opened it's doors at 11:00 a.m. and were there until 6:00 p.m. and had a steady flow of shoppers which many of the vendors were very happy with overall.  Had the opportunity to speak with the event coordinator and she has already received requests for participation next year - so much so, she has to find a larger location.  I took a couple of pictures of the event seen below.

We had a little of everything for all the shoppers who came through: Discovery Toys, Taylor Made Pantry (tried her pumpkin spice pop - awesome!), Miche Bags, Cookie Lee, Adalynn's Bowtique, Cute as a Bug, Creative Memories, Blue Sky Foundation, AloeforMocha, Mary Kay, Tupperware, Greetings by Moe & Mora, Stella & Dot, The Finest Accessories, Addies Gifts, Soul Purpose, Hero on My Wrist, Xocai Chocolates, and Passion.  We had a great time!  I'm looking forward to doing this again.

I sold a few items - people loved the Fun Fur hats - they were a big hit! I have several orders for these in several different colors.  After I complete my orders from the bazaar, my charity donations, and my family's gifts, I will be taking a much needed break from knitting - give my hands and fingers a break.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Oh the weather outside is frightful...but the knitting is so delightful

I've been living in Washington now for nine years and I have to say living in the Pacific Northwest is very different from living in upstate New York, for one thing you don't have to shovel rain - thank goodness for that!  I admit during this time of year I miss the white stuff, but not enough to wish New York kind of snowfall on the unsuspecting Pacific Nothwesters of course.  What a disaster that would be!

But I love this time of year (with or without the snow), because I can sit by the fireplace with a Hallmark Channel's Countdown to Christmas (24 hours of Holiday movies & specials every day) and my latest knitting project in my lap.  There's even a couple of radio stations (Warm 106.9 and KJRFM 95.7) that have already started playing Christmas music - I know it's a bit early but listening to the holiday music helps me to get into the spirit. And there is nothing like knitting a little love into a sweater, hat, scarf, or a pair of mittens for a family member or friend while listening to the songs of the season.

And seeing your knitted gifts being worn and enjoyed or receiving pictures from family members of them or their children sporting them is a real kick.

Christmas 2006
My niece Joi (right) pictured with
her best bud in Fun Fur hats
and matching ponchos
I also like seeing what others make this time of year too and my friend Erika made this cute little hat and scarf set for her two year old son for Christmas and it is absolutely the cutest thing - she designed it herself - I'm trying to convince her to write out the pattern...

Duck scarf and pumpkin hat
made by Erika
I have a sister who lives in Baltimore, Maryland and she has four children (Joi pictured above in the Fun Fur hat and scarf is one of them) and every year I send a big Christmas package to her for the kids and she told me once that her youngest daughter who was about four or five at the time jumped up and down when she saw the box that was delivered to their house - she was so so excited she ran to her siblings yelling, "Auntie Stacy's box is here!" she just knew there were all kinds of goodies inside.  My sister said she was more excited about the box I sent than all the gifts under the tree! Doesn't that make you just wanna smile?  It makes my heart sing to know that my sweet little niece looks forward to getting her annual Christmas package from her Auntie.  Last year's project was felted slippers and becasue I fell behind on my projects I wasn't able to send out the package until January. My sister said it was like Christmas all over again in her house - they were a big hit with all the kids. Matter of fact they were a big hit with everyone in my family and quite a few friends as well.
My son sporting his felted slippers

My friend Amber showing off her
Fun fur pair

Made for my friend Angie for her

Made for my niece Joi
last year for Christmas
This year's Christmas projects are a combination of different things, hats, scarves, shrugs, and socks.  Every year I try to learn something new so I can get proficient enough to mass produce for the holidays.  Learning this craft has brought back many memories for me, particularly during this time of year.  I remember watching my mom make us hats, mittens, and booties for our feet to wear around the house or to bed - they sure came in handy when the temperatures dropped below freezing and our house would get very, very cold - but those little booties kept our little tootsies nice and warm in our little beds.  I really miss my Mom, she passed away just three days before Christmas in 1992 and I often wish that she was still here so that we could sit and knit together, teaching, learning and just enjoying the time together.

In closing I want to wish everyone a season of great thanksgiving, joy, peace and happiness.  Happy holidays to everyone and happy knitting/crocheting!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Charity should be a way of life - not just during the holidays

Yep, you know it's that time again when the holiday commercials start bombarding you between your favorite t.v. shows.  I'm so glad for my DVR, I get to skip right over them.  I don't need to see one more commercial about that new gift idea that my child must have!

On a more serious note, it's that time to also think about our less fortunate during this time of year.  With the economy as it is many of us who were feeling pretty flush last year are finding themselves cutting back more than they've ever had to before. Perhaps even having to sell possessions they received as Christmas gifts last year to help pay their rent, buy food for their families or winter clothing for their children.

One of the many things that bothers me this time of the year is the commercials advertising to go out and buy, buy, buy.  Well what about some commercials on give, give, give.  There are so many charities out there at this time of year who need our help and no one's saying anything about money either, you can donate your time, food, gently used clothing (coats, hats, and gloves - particularly this time of year).  At my day job we participate in a giving tree program, feeding the elderly on Thanksgiving and Christmas at our local senior center, an adopt-a-family program, a food drive for our local food bank, and well you get the idea. Every little bit counts, this year more than ever with so many people out of work and trying to make ends meet on unemployment, social services, and relying on food pantries to feed their families. 

It's our moral obligation to help where we can - does your child really need that $400 X-Box this year?  When you could give a quarter of that in a donation to your local food pantry and feed probably a half dozen families.  Forgive my soapbox speech but I can't help but talk about this.  It something we should be thinking about year 'round not just this time of year - but I particularly believe we should make an effort to give -when there are so many that need.  I also believe that we should teach our children about community service, helping where they are needed, and about giving. 

In a not so distant past I found myself in situations where I was unable to pay my rent, or buy groceries, or diapers for my son and there were organizations and people willing to help, most organizations that solely relied on donations but they were there to help me in my time of need.  So at this time of year, I like to give back to those who are in the same situation. I try to teach my son, that when you have it, there is nothing wrong with sharing it.  He really gets into the spirit of giving this time of year - I'm hoping that he will want to do it all year 'round.

Some charities that I make a point of giving to each year is my local Salvation Army and the Seattle Union Gospel Mission.  My small donation oftentimes helps over 15 individuals or 5 families in need of a hot meal on Thanksgiving or Christmas.  As well as going through my son's clothes and outgrown outerwear and donating them to a Salvation Army Red Box, so that a child doesn't have to go without a coat during the winter season.

This year I was looking over some charities for knitters and few have caught my eye that I read about on the Fiber Arts - Times Union Blog - Make a Hat. Save a Life. post. It inspired me, with all the yarn I've accumulated over the last couple of years (see Has Your Hobby Turned into An Obssession?) I could make enough hats to cover hundreds of heads, or scarves, or slippers, mittens, sweaters - the list goes on and on and it could be done with just my remnant stash!  I can't wait to get started.

Giving isn't limited to just people, there are animal shelters out there who could use our help too.  The ASPCA is always in need of our help - they are on the front lines when it comes to saving abused and neglected animals.  And you wouldn't believe the number of animals that start off as a gift and ends up in a shelter or on the street somewhere.  It breaks my heart that many of these animals have to be humanely euthanized due to someone's neglect or abuse. (Can you tell Animal Planet was my viewing choice during this weekend's knitting frenzy?)  There are many organizations that are looking for knitters/crocheters who can donate knitted/crocheted blankets for abandoned and/or abused animals at local animal shelters.  One such organization I discovered is the Snuggles Project.

The Snuggles Project was founded by Rae French, in 1996 because of her heartfelt need to do something for the innocent victims who find themselves in animal shelters without a bit of comfort to call their own. Picturing them in their hard cold cells made her heart ache to do something to help. So she got the idea of security blankets for shelter animals. The security blankets are called "Snuggles." Did you know that a knitted blanket can help calm a frightened or injured animal and makes the shelters look and feel more homey. Animals are more at ease when visitors are more at ease. This makes for better matching and better adoption results.

So animals as well as humans can benefit from your craft.  I'd like to hear from you, what is your favorite charity or how do you give during this time of year - or do you give all year 'round?  Leave me a post, I'm always looking for more ways to spread the joy of the holiday season - even in July!

P.S. Here's what my latest knitting frenzy weekend produced:
Toddler socks (size 9) - using toe-up
technique I learned two weeks ago!

Fun fur trimmed caplet, scarf, and hat set by Lion Brand
pattern: 40255

Lion Brand Fun Fur & Homespun
hat and matching scarf

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Has your hobby turned into an obsession?

If someone asked me that question, I would adamantly deny it. No I'm not obsessed, I'm a knitter!  My son, Aiden claims I have gone yarn crazy, that I turned our living room into a yarn shop, and that I don't need to buy another skein of yarn for at least a year. I would say that's not possible - I have so many patterns on my list of to-do's and I can't possibly have enough yarn to make them all... or so I thought!

Just to see how much yarn I really had, I decided to lay it all out in my living room.  I took a long hard look at all the yarn I've amassed over the last two years - most of which was accumulated in the last two months.  And I can tell you amassed almost covers it!  Am I obsessed? Maybe just a little. "Hello my name is Stacy and I'm a knit-a-holic and I'm addicted to buying yarn whenever I can get my hands on a little spare change."  The pictures below only covers about three quarters of it, I have a three drawer cabinet in my upstairs closet along with another Rubbermaid bin stuffed with yarn - I got so overwhelmed with what I had stockpiled downstairs that I just couldn't bring myself to haul it all down from upstairs.

I don't think I have come across a skein of yarn that I don't feel the need to buy - if that's obsessed then I wholeheartedly admit, my hobby has taken me over and I can't seem to stop. There have been times I have gone into a JoAnn Fabrics & Crafts store for something other than yarn and have walked out with a bag full of yarn I never intended to buy - but couldn't seem to help myself.  I suppose a psychiatrist would say I'm making up for something I lacked as a child or some middle-child syndrome pycho-babble nonsense.  But I'd say, I'm a KNITTER/Crocheter and I love seeing what I can magically create out of this fiber we call yarn, that comes in so many wonderful textures, colors, and designs.  Do I need an intervention? Not really. My son would probably disagree, but he'll be going off to college some day and I can convert his room into my very own yarn shop! Shh...don't tell him I said that.

I'll admit, I can't stop in a yarn or craft shop without buying at least minimally three skeins of a new yarn that I find interesting - I tell myself, "I wonder what I can create with this?", and in most cases I find a pattern for the yarn but usually I don't have a clue as to what I'm going to make at the time I'm buying it - but I must have that yarn (compulsive shopper? Nah), and then I stash it away in the closet upstairs, or the Rubbermaid tub next to my loveseat or just have bags of it cluttered in corners all over the house!

And here is what my yarn obsession has gotten me? A living room filled almost to the brim, not that I'm complaining, although when guests come over I think they might complain about having to sit on the floor. So much yarn and so little time to knit!
Wow, look at all that yarn!
So much yarn, so little time for knitting.
Trying out different patterns - hats that
haven't found a home yet.

My work area - the loveseat where I knit and
watch Law & Order SVU marathons

New yarn accumulated for holiday gifts in the last
two weeks - on top of a tub that has even more
yarn stashed away that I've had for about two years
and still haven't started any projects with.
Pattern books I hoard from the library for as long as I can.
Coffee table in front of work area where finished
projects accumulate and all my tools of the trade.
Really cool round basket a friend found at a garage sale
and gave to me to keep my yarn in. I stuff it full with
all my Lion Cotton yarn. Reminded me of a snake
charmer's basket!

Spud & Chloe (superwash 65% wool, 35% organic cotton),
pattern (hooded, sleeveless sweater) for my niece.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Holidays are almost here! Do you know what you're knitting?

Only seven more weeks (OMG is that correct?) until Christmas! Do you know what you're knitting and giving as gifts this year?  I have so many nephews and nieces I have to start knitting for the next year right after Christmas. 

Well this year as always, I have procrastinated and now am behind on my gift projects. I've been concentrating solely on making items for the Pre-Black Friday Holiday Bazaar that I'm participating in that I have completely neglected my family's projects.  My consolation is if my items don't sell then I can give them as gifts, which in my book is a win-win situation.

Last year's gifts for the fam were felted slippers - I made twenty-two pairs and was still mailing off slippers in March of this year. They were such a big hit that I have back orders that I still haven't filled.  So this coming weekend will probably be devoted to back order items and finishing those pesky unfinished projects hidden in my upstairs closet (you know the old saying..."out of sight, out of mind").  Well that's where they've been for a couple of years, out of mind - but not anymore, it's time they saw the light of day once again and finally get finished - no more putting it off...well that's the plan anyway.  Can you tell I'm trying to psych myself up for this endeavor?  Is it working?  Not really...but I know it must be done.

So last night I went through the bag I had hidden away upstairs and found that I had no reason to be intimidated - there seemed to only be crochet projects in the bag and only two knitted caps that I cleary had intended to give as a gift but never did.  Apparently this is my MO, I get excited about a new hat pattern, knit it, and then squirl it away in a bag in the back of the closet.  Well no more - these cute little caps will find a new home, once I make a nice matching scarf or fingerless gloves to go with them. So I pulled them from their hiding place and right now have them lined up across the back of my couch settled on styrofoam heads like the one you see here that a friend of mine is letting me borrow to display them at my table during the holiday bazaar.  They look really kind of cool - but my son thinks that I've really gone off the deep end when he saw the heads sitting on the back of the couch with all these hats on them!  He says I'm turning into a knit-a-holic, and that's a bad thing? 

Well it looks like this year, hats and scarves and/or fingerless gloves are on the agenda for the fam - my first attempts at making hats was when I first began to knit several years ago. I only knew how to work on straight needles and had to sew a seam up the back of my hats. Well I certainly hope that I've advanced a little since then.  When I discovered patterns that showed you how to make hats without seams using circular needles I was doing the happy dance - my hats now look so much better without the seam going up the back - as my mother (who was a seamstress that did piece work for a big manufacturing company) would attest I'm a terrible seamstress and I am very happy not to have to sew anything if I can help it.  Thank goodness for circular needles!

So I'd like to hear from you about what's on your needles for the holiday gift giving season, post a comment and tell me what about your favorite pattern or item you like to give as gifts.

Rolled brim skull cap - 1st time using
circular needles

back view: 1st time decreasing on double-pointed
needles (dpns)

Monday, November 8, 2010

What's on my needles, you ask?

What's on my needles - geez I have so many WIP's that I don't even know where to begin.  Honestly I guess it would depend on which needles you were looking at because there's a little of this and a little of that and a whole lot of yarn! And this weekend was another knit-a-thon weekend!  My goal though was to get as many of my unfinished projects done as possible.  There are so many, even I was a little intimidated by how many projects I started and didn't finish.  When I started pulling them from my knitting bag I almost decided to pretend they didn't exist and just start something new.  But alas, I'm a bit anal when it comes to having something unfinished laying around - so I got to work on getting some needles cleared off.

It began on Thursday evening - sorting through all the projects and checking the stage of development for each one, and figuring out how long each one would take to complete.  Luckily I work a flexible schedule at my regular 9-5 job, where I work eight 9 hour days, one 8 hour day and get every other Friday off.  And this Friday (November 5th) was one of my off days so I of course what did I do? I knitted until my hands cramped and then I knitted some more. I fell asleep watching the SciFi channel with knitting needles still in my hands on Thursday night which is scarier than anything you would ever see on the SciFi channel - me sleeping upright in front of the t.v. with my hair sticking up all over - not a pretty picture!  I'm very glad my son didn't have a camera on hand when he found me the next morning.

Aiden, my son who also had the day off from school, came downstairs at 8:30 Friday morning to find me asleep on the loveseat buried in needles, patterns and yarn - lots and lots of yarn.  He says I turned our living room into a knitting/yarn shop with all the yarn, patterns, needles, and did I say yarn? Piled all over the place. When I have a chance I will post a picture of my loveseat and coffee table where I'm surrounded by my work.  I love it, but it is very messy and I've tried to organize it many times, but I always end up pulling out yarn, or searching for a paticular pattern and/or needle and it all ends up all over the place again - so now I've given up and leave it strewn all over the floor next to my seat, on the loveseat, on the back of the loveseat and of course all over the cofee table.

As Aiden put it I was a "knitting fool" this weekend. He couldn't believe that I had finished so many projects in only a couple of days.  He was very impressed with the end product and he decided to try on several of the items and I got a real kick out of seeing him model them - unfortunately he wouldn't let me take any pictures - he didn't want to see them posted on Facebook (he knows me so well!).

So some of the WIP's I completed this weekend included a pair of socks - one at a time pair that were on dpns that I started 3 months ago (man I'm so glad I now know how to do two socks at the same time - no more one-at-a-time socks on dpns for me!), a drawstring backpack that I started last week, and I worked a little on my NaKniSweMo project that I began last week - I've gotten as far as the armholes on the backside.  And after putting in a good effort (good effort being the key words here folks!) on finishing up some unfinished projects (I didn't dare look in the closet upstairs where there is another bag full of unfinished WIP's) I started and finished a few new projects that include a pair of fingerless gloves and a bath set that has a face towel, washcloth, and soap pocket. I like to pair my bathsets with this really great handmade soap and bathsalt that I get from the Pink Sugar Shop, which I discovered at my local Farmer's Market.  I've given these as gifts to family and they absolutely love them.

And below you can see some of the finished projects, enjoy!

Personal Bath Set - made with 100%
mercerized cotton by Saucy paired with handmade apricot
scented soap &  mango madness scented bathsalt

Front view of drawstring backpack
made with Lion Cotton in Seaspray. You can find the pattern at:
Super Summer Backpack pattern #80401AD
Side view
Back view
Fingerless gloves made from Lion Brand
Jiffy in Fisherman & Fun Fur in Ivory

Thursday, November 4, 2010

So you CAN teach an old knitter new tricks!

So I was on Ravelry yesterday trying to scope out a new knitting circle to join.  Because I live in between Seattle and Tacoma a lot of the groups are located either in the South end or the North end and poor me is stuck in between with no place to go.  So I happened across a forum that has a knitting group "The Renton Knitters" that meets locally (well Renton local) once a week and I figured that was going to be as close as I was gonna get.  So I joined the forum and asked if I could join their knitting circle. 

I'm happy to report that they were very welcoming and it just so happened that they were meeting tonight (last night) in Kent!  Well I was exstatic to be joining a new knitting group - they were even showing a few new techniques that I just so happened to want to learn - knitting two socks at the same time, toe-up socks (two at a time no less), and the magic cast-on - being a self-taught knitter some techniques are not so easy to learn by reading instructions and looking at pictures. 

I prepared my knitting bag with what I thought I would need and made my way to the designated location.  It was a small group - a few people had already left by the time I made it there at 8:40 p.m.  But those that were still there welcomed me and I'm sorry to say that I never did get to learn everyone's name - but hopefully next Wednesday I will get introduced to everyone and will be happy to remember their names.

So the lesson was quick and seemed to be easy, well anything is easy when you have someone standing right there instructing you on what to do.  But I've been wanting to learn how to knit two socks for a while and I was eager to learn this technique, I only hoped that I would remember what I learned when I got home.  I so didn't want to go back to knitting one sock at a time on double pointed needles (dpns) or even circular if I could help it, because everyone knows that knitting one sock at a time (even on circular needles) is very time consuming and from my own experience they take so long that I end up not even doing the second sock - I have at least two different socks still on dpns that have not seen the light of day for a very long time and forget about starting a second one!

So I listened diligently and followed the magic cast-on instructions from Knitty and with guidance from the instructor, I had two toe-up socks started on my needles - how cool is that?  I couldn't wait to try this new technique out on this really cool yarn [Rowan - Calmer 75% cotton, 25% acrylic/microfibre 50g/175yds] I bought about a year ago intending to make a pair of socks for my nephew - at that time was two years old - but never got around to it, well now he's three and I still intend to make him his socks and now I can make them both at the same time.

I went home excited to put my new knowledge to work and after much trial and error, because of course I couldn't remember all the instruction and I kept having to pull my work apart I finally got the toes started and at 12:59 a.m. I finally put my work down and called it a night. Here is what I've got so far:

Yep those two triangular shapes are the beginning of
a pair of toe-up socks!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

NaKniSweMo - Knit a Sweater in a Month!

Have you heard of NaNoWriMo [National Novel Writing Month] where you write a 50,000 word novel in the month of November? Well Ravelry is hosting a NaKniSweMo [Knit a Sweater in a Month] where you knit a 50,000 stitch sweater in the month of November.

Basketcase Jacket - Men in
Knits by Tara Jon Manning
Well I've signed on to particpate and I just started last night.  Only one day late, but hopefully that won't deter me from getting it done by the end of the month.  I've chosen a men's sweater Basketcase Jacket for my project from Men in Knits by Tara Jon Manning.  Here is a picture from the book and below is how far I've gotten. I'm using Lion Brand Wool Ease Chunky in Walnut and sizes 13 & 15-29" circular needles.

Of course the basketweave pattern has to be in a chart.  Charts and me just don't mix.  I'm still learning how to read charts, and even though this one is pretty simple, I've found that it's easy for me to make mistakes, which of course I've already done.  Hopefully it's not too noticeable.  I'm such a perfectionist though so I'm debating on whether I want to pull it apart to where I made the mistake and restart from there.

How far I've gotten last night (November 2, 2010)

I just picked up my yarn last night at JoAnn Fabric and Craft Store.  I love going to the craft/yarn stores.  I'm a tactile person so I like to feel the yarn before I buy and even though as a child I hated the feel of wool, now there are so many wool blends that takes the itchiness out of the traditional wool I remember as a child and I enjoy feeling the fibers and making my decision based on how it feels against my skin. Because let's face it, you can spend a lot of energy creating a really wonderful piece and find that the person you made it for doesn't like wearing it because they don't like the way it feels.  I know I'm always looking for comfort and why wear something that makes you feel uncomfortable? 

And on that note, to all the knitters out there participating in the NaKniSweMo good luck and happy knitting!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

If I didn't have my knitting to keep me sane...

I saw this t-shirt that said, I Knit So I Don't Kill People and I thought... that is so me! Have you ever felt that if you didn't have a hobby you love that allows you to get away from the craziness around you that you would go on a killing spree?  Well maybe not exactly that far, but there are times when I feel like the people around me are so annoying that I just want to smack them right up side the head! Ugh - particularly the ones who seem to be so helpless when standing in front of the copier machine and you have a twenty page document you have to have ready for the boss in like five minutes and the person in front of you can't figure out how to work the damn machine!  Shouldn't that be a requirement of a person before they are hired?  Know how to use standard office equipment, i.e.: copier, fax, computer, printer? Hmm...just a thought.

Well thank goodness for my knitting, it's allows me time to de-stress at the end of the day after dealing with the daily frustrations of stupid people on the job, raising an oftentimes annoying teenager, really bad drivers in Washington, and everything and anything in between.  Have you ever felt that way?  If I didn't knit, I think I'd probably go stark raving mad sometimes - because people can be so annoying at times and other times even more annoying.

Patterns don't talk back, or cut you off in traffic, or make you do a letter over five times before it's perfect!  I'v found that knitting can bring you a lot of joy and when you finish that handmade creation and see your friend or family member sporting the end product you can't help but smile and think life isn't so bad after all.

And since life can be overwhelming at times for me to keep my sanity I pick up my needles [no not to stab that annoying person in the check-out line who can't find the right card to use to pay for a lousy pack of gum and a gallon of milk] and block out the stupidity around me and bask in my world of colors, textures, styles, patterns, and designs.

Ladies small - machine washable-gentle cycle
& dry-low heat
And with that I just finished another shrug last night - this one was a little longer in the making because I used a less bulky yarn and smaller needle [Berroco Comfort Chunky 50% super fine nylon & 50% superfine acrylic in Beet Root, size 9 needle].  It took a little longer but I think the end result speaks for itself.  What do you think?

I also completed the Fun Fur & Jiffy scarf and hat.  All the ladies at work loved it, maybe you will too!
Me modeling hat and scarf
I'm all set for the holidays!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Weekend Knit-A-Thon

My needles were flying this weekend.  I'm getting ready for the Pre-Black Friday Holiday Bazaar in two weeks on Saturday, November 20th -  from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. at the Kent Memorial Park Bldg [850 N Central Avenue; Kent, WA] and I'm working frantically to get as many projects done as possible to have on display at my booth; because of course I agreed to participate before really thinking through the time I would need to prepare for the event.

So I went into overdrive this weekend and practically knitted non-stop from Friday to Sunday.   I worked on two scarves - completed one [using Lion Jiffy in Fisherman & Fun Fur in Ivory], still working on a green and black striped one (using this really soft yarn: Beautiful by Sensations in mint green and black - working with this yarn has been a joy because the softness felt great against my fingers as I worked), I also made a matching beanie hat to go with the Jiffy & Fun Fur scarf (I will have pics up soon - still searching for a model). 

I also started a mesh drawstring backpack as well. I have one side done and will probably have the other side done tonight and then it's all about assembly. Can you say cramped and tired fingers.  I took a break on Saturday to watch my son play basketball and I spent most of the game massaging my fingers and hands!  I'm not complaining though - I'm having a lot of fun with my projects and hopefully the customers at the bazaar will enjoy them too.

Another reason why I'm not complaining because after a long hard week at 'the day job' going home and knitting - creating such nice handmade items is very relaxing for me and I can watch t.v. while I work - bonus right?!  So during a Halloween Law & Order SVU marathon on Sunday I was able to get a large portion of my green and black striped scarf done, and when I got bored with that I decided to try my hand at making a backpack [using Lion Cotton in Seaspray].  Variety is what it's all about ya know and as soon as I'm done I will post a picture of all the items I described above. 

Well the day job is calling so I will leave you with a photo of a light blue shrug I finished last week made with chunky yarn that was a breeze to complete using size 15 needles!

Light Blue Shrug with three quarter length sleeves
model: my friend Sandy