Wednesday, January 16, 2013

In SUPPORT of Winter v.2.0

We get a whole lot of winter around these parts and typically that means snow, cold, short days, and a whole lot of layers to stay warm. Last year we had a very mild winter with very little snow. That’s why, with the return to normal seasonal weather, so many people are complaining. We turned into wussies very quickly. For shame!

Help, my eyes are frozen open!

So what is a girl and her good Canadian family to do when the nights are long and cold? Go outside anyways? Yes, of course, but what else? Knit? Great idea! And what should I be knitting.... things to keep us warm when we go outside. The problem is that I have 5 people to knit winter woollies for (including myself) and I cannot possibly knit fast enough to keep everyone warm on the same year or before items get discarded, out grown or lost. This is a serious problem.
I get an idea to knit my kids simple mittens. But after knitting 3 full pairs someone mentions that “they are awfully thin, Mom. And cold.  And make your hands all sore and chapped when they get wet. And maybe I lost one at school or in the van butitsnotmyfault.” The last part was said as a mumble under the breath hoping that I wouldn’t hear.  So no one wears the mittens. 

So I get a brainwave and buy polar fleece to line the newly knit gloves. I test my tiny brain on making my own fabric mitten as a liner in reverse and sew it together.  Really, how hard this can be, I say to myself. Pretty darn hard, as it turns out, for the girl who doesn't sew!  Mitts are now lined, albeit a little lumpy, but the kids won't wear them now because they are too small. Crap.
Repeat this process with hats. To pretty much the same success. (The hats in the picture below are admittedly decorative hats and not really one ones for really keeping warm but you get the idea.) 
Left to Right: Rustling Leaves Beret, Cowled by Thy Mane, Propello Hat for Hannah

I give up! I will have children wrapped in warm non-knitted items! I only care that they are warm and dry. Really what I have come to realize is that sometimes knitting for kids is like shoveling the driveway while it is still snowing... usually a lot of work for nothing.

I'll save the good stuff for me.

Friday, January 11, 2013

UPDATED: It's all about the math

 Have you ever had one of those projects where you start off with pure excitement and by two thirds through you are counting the rows or repeats until you can be done with this project FOREVER? As a process knitter I don’t typically suffer with this. But my current project, a Guernsey Wrap, designed by Jared Flood, is challenging even my patience to knit for knitting’s sake.

Knit with Brooklyn Tweed Shelter
I am really excited about this project. In no small part because it is nearly impossible* for me to screw up the sizing of a long rectangular wrap. This one's mine, bitches!
But in the mean time I am nearly 3 feet into a future 5+ foot wrap. I’m going to say it out loud: two feet of knitting can be a lot.   So because I am the sort to do math for fun and I'm a glass-half-full kinda gal I start trying to find ways to make it feel like I am nearly done while staying positive about the project.

Here we go...
I have 10,266 stitches left. How, exactly, is that supposed to make me feel like I am making progress? It kinda makes me want to cry and hide this UFO under my bed.
Stay positive. I have finished 267 rows of a 444 row project. No! No! No!
Breathe. (insert forced smile.) I have another 177 rows to go. Ug. Not helping.
I have 9.5 repeats to go.  Getting better... 9.5 is less than 177 but I still know it takes 18 rows per repeat. Keep trying.
I am 60% complete. We have a winner!
I'm not lying to myself. These are all the exact same amount of truth. Isn't it human nature to make a daunting task seem a little more achievable by breaking it down into pieces that your brain can comprehend.

Ravelry certainly got it right when they allowed project  process to be tracked in percentage complete instead of repeats, rows or even, God forbid, stitches.  I think that there were would be far fewer people willing to start an afghan or a pair of fine gauge socks if you were told right off the bat that you had somewhere between 50,000 to 100,000 stitches ahead of you. 

I offer the following motivational poster...
Well, I have a winter storm heading my way. Which will give me a perfect opportunity to snuggle down and knit for as much of the weekend as I will be allowed. (*Beam*) Don’t worry about me...I only have another 177 rows to go  9.5 repeats am 60% complete and raring to get finished!
* I am aware that I am tempting fate by putting that thought into print but I am feeling pretty confident** here. Even in my early knitting years I could pull off a square-ish dishcloth or a rectangular scarf.

** Oh Crap! I'd better do an extra repeat just to be sure.

UPDATE: With all the snowing and blowing on Friday I thought I was going to have a weekend to knit until I got bored with it. It cleared up Saturday and we were back to business as usual. All weekend I only managed to finish 522 stitches/ 9 rows/ 0.5 repeat. That makes me 62% complete. Le Sigh.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Happy New Year, resolutions and other nonsense

Happy New Year Everyone! I hope every one's holiday season was merry and bright. I know that mine was, thank you for asking.

2012 was a very good year for me for Finished Objects (FO). Well, this is the first year that I have really both kept track and tried to finish more than the occasional project. So yeah me!

My favourite completed projects for 2012 was my Vergennes Sweater, my Stripes A Plenty Shawl and the Baby Owlet sweater. I had originally knit the Vergennes for myself but, as is my habit, I knit it in the wrong size. So my sister was the lucky recipient of a gorgeous sweater- just her size! I will reknit that project someday- for me next time.

For the first time I also knit a few shawls. I don't typically wear them but I really like the idea of a shawl. I'm going to keep trying and see where this goes. One of my favourite podcasts calls them "socially acceptable blankets" and that makes me smile.

So what about the stash, you ask?

My ill conceived yarn diet worked about as well as... any other diet for me. Poorly. It wasn't all bad. I still have a rockin' stash and I can honestly say that growth has slowed near the end of the year. I am trying harder to make fewer purchases and plan projects from the yarn I already have. Yarn appreciation is going to be my theme for 2013.

In 2012 I was fortunate to be part of 2 different yarn clubs and that was both fantastic and part of the yarn acquisition problem. The Rocking Sock Club sent me 2 patterns and 1 skein of yarn every second month and SweetGeorgia Yarns Sock Club sent one skein every month.  The great part of this was that I got yarny surprises in the mail all year. It was like Christmas all year round.

In January 2012 I had it figured that I would have a new FO each month and that I would knit up these new kits lickedy split. Um, right. I didn't even make one month before reality told me to smarten up and get real.  And everything after that just piled up as single skein projects that were not getting finished.

So, no clubs for me in 2013?

Well, no. I am just going to try a different club and only one this year. This year I chose a yarn club that had more shaded solids as colours (ones I am way more likely to use) and had a variety of yarn types. It won't just be socks and that might help me actually complete the projects in a more timely fashion. (Say within three years of receipt.)

I'm still kind of on the fence about yarn clubs. I loved getting the packages but there were just too many that were not to my taste over the ones that were fabulous.  Fundamentally I am too much of a control freak to get too many more years of lovely yarns that I know that I will never knit. I am not so committed to this craft that I will knit yarn that I don't love.

I did some trading, which worked out very well. I was lucky enough to have found someone within one club who loved the kits that I didn't and didn't like the ones that I loved. But now I have TWO kits to knit when I hadn't even finished the first one.

So, what's up for me in 2013?(Hmmm, could this be a sneaky resolution?)

In 2013 I would like to complete at least 5 big projects and 5 smaller ones.  I think that this is reasonable and achievable. Specific projects that I would like to knit: a Tumeric sweater for myself, to try colourwork in a pair of mittens/socks/or hat and I would like to knit at least 2 baby sweaters as gifts. Finn would also like me to knit him a sweater with skulls.

By only being in one club this year I am limiting regular in-coming yarn. I have several projects planned for 2013 and I already have the yarn on hand for many of them. I'm going to try to stay focused.

For the record let me show you my digits...

FO-  23
WIP at end of year - 3
Yardage at end of 2011- 26,504
Yardage at end of 2012- 64,511*