Sunday, December 26, 2010

I survived Christmas!

I only managed to complete one Christmas gift before Christmas this year and it was a pair of socks for my Dad. (photo)

To add to the stress of shopping and working a retail job, I thought that knitting a few projects for Christmas would be a great idea. However, one thing led to another and last week I said to a friend: "You are getting an after Christmas project. I already bought the yarn and the pattern, I just don't have time. So instead would it be alright if you get a New Years present this year?" She laughed at me.

Even with these socks that I successfully managed to knit, I found myself madly knitting Christmas Eve. It is difficult to knit a surprise for someone when they are in the same house. So instead of socializing on Christmas Eve, I hid in the basement with my smaller cousins and finished up the last sock.

I am very thankful that the stress of Christmas is over. I still have projects that I need to complete, but they will get done in no time. Top of the list is a pattern for beautiful Norwegian Snowflake socks from Interweave Knits Winter 2010 issue. It will be my first attempt at multi-colour work and I am very anxious to get started.

Friday, December 3, 2010

The countdown has begun

Well I may not be as extreme as Stephanie Pearl-McPhee (the Yarn Harlot), but I am beginning to count the days left until Christmas and I keep thinking: "Uh oh...well if I sit at home all day Saturday, I may be able to finish this gift so that I can start the other gift next week. OR I could finish Saturday and start another smaller gift on Sunday and finish that on Monday leaving me all next week to work on my other projects."

Pearl-McPhee explains in her first book "Yarn harlot: the secret life of a knitter" that she casts on to several needles at a time around Christmas and works each one for a bit and moves onto another. Of course by the time she is in panic mode she is thinking about pulling all night-ers. That would be a very, very bad idea for me considering that I'm just getting back into the game. I'm only knitting for an hour or two at a time, which means that any presents that I have to make are slow-going.

And it just so happens that I'm only on my first present and I have the next three days off, with nothing to do but a little housework and some baking.

I will not resort to buying back-up gifts until closer to Christmas. There is still plenty of time right? RIGHT?

Friday, November 26, 2010

Unfinished projects and other annoyances

Today was a frustrating day. For the first time in a long time, I was so frustrated that I had a hankering to go out and buy some more yarn. Buying cheap, on-sale, acrylic yarn is my instant, go-to pick-me-up.

And I haven't made any major yarn purchases lately because I'm holding out to buy yarn from Jennifer at Jay Springs Lamb Company. But that yarn is going to be special and it is imperative that I buy her yarn to complete a certain Christmas gift.

Normally, I would not buy hand-spun yarn to make a gift. I enjoy acrylic yarns. I'm on a tight budget and when I do buy expensive hand-spun yarn I'm either too afraid to use it, or I curse myself the entire project because of the amount of money I spent.

So today I took the bus to the craft supply store and gave myself a half an hour to find yarn to start yet another gift. I know, I know, it's already Nov. 26th and I should have started my gifts a few weeks ago. But my arms are still not up to par.

Sadly though, I could not find any suitable acrylic yarn in the time I had given myself (the bus was coming). It all just seemed so mediocre except for a new line of Vanna's choice that actually has sparkle.

But I'm still debating: are sparkle mittens too much?

So instead I came back to my parents' house and went through my magic bag of unfinished projects that I left here. (The hat that I started is at my house.)

I'm glad that I took a closer look at these mittens because I'm going to need to alter the pattern before I start making some gifts. I used a really old Beehive pattern that I got from my gramma. The pattern is for child-size mittens and I just increased the size. Now I will need to do some more alterations so that my next pair is perfect.

If they are going to sparkle, they are going to stand out.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

I've cast on again

Well I've cast on again, despite the fact that my injury is not fully healed. My chiropractor told me that I am still allowed to knit, but not for long periods at a time. She said I need to limit myself to knitting for 1 hour at a time and then I have to do something else.

My arms are not actually doing that well and I have been instructed to ice my elbows everyday. I have been afraid to pick up the needles since my first chiropractors appointment over a week ago. But today I decided to try some knitting and see what happens.

I decided to make myself a hat because it's getting cold outside. Obviously, I haven't knit a lot today. I keep knitting in small sections and then setting it down to do stretches and check my email. So far it is going fairly well and my arms do not feel all that bad.

I don't care if I ever finish the hat. It was more a project to pass the time and see if I could get back into it (I have a lot of knitting planned for December). The good news is that I don't feel any worse than I did before. So I will keep at it and see how it goes this afternoon.

I also thought I should share the fact that I dropped off my grampa's socks yesterday and they fit him perfectly. So I am feeling inspired to make a few more gifts next month and I have to get practiced up!

Monday, November 15, 2010

I have a knitting injury

And according to my significant other, a knitting injury is the lamest type of injury a person can get.

It isn't carpal tunnel though. My chiropractor today said that I have just repeatedly strained my muscles from gripping the needles. She told me that I'm not allowed to sit for hours and hours knitting like it is a full-time job.

I don't grip the needles very hard, but I have developed shooting pain to my inner elbows, to add to the pain at the back of my hands.

She showed me some stretches that I have to do "as often as possible", and I need to put down my knitting after a few hours and do something else. Which is actually a load off of my shoulders considering that I thought I may have to give up knitting all together. So I'm resting for a few days and I will go and see her again on Thursday. Then I will dive into my Christmas knitting full-force, just making sure to take a break every once in awhile.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The fight that was the second sock

I have now completed the second toe of my second sock and I am done!

The second sock was a fight from the very beginning, and the perfectionist in me doesn't even want to give this pair of socks away because--shamefully--one sock is smaller than the other. I asked my parents if I should pick it out and try again to which they both shouted "NO!"

Why was the second sock so hard? Because, true to my form, I altered the pattern to my liking without so much as making a note on paper as to what I had changed. I did all the math in my head to reach the gauge that I wanted, assuming that by the time the second sock rolled around I would have memorized the changes.

Why was I so foolish? Because I got the pattern online. I didn't want to waste any paper printing it off. But, once it came to working the heel I was trying to mentally do the gauge math as to which stitches were on which needles and multiply etc. And it didn't help that on my first sock I made a few errors (that I told myself gave it character) until I was trying to make those very same errors on the second sock. When I was unsuccessful, I had to pick out a perfectly good sock to go back and remake the errors.

So here is what I have learned: print it out and write it down. Saving one piece of paper may be good for the environment, but it may mean hours, days, even weeks of frustrations. Get out your red pencil and mark that pattern up! Otherwise you will find yourself yelling at innocent bystanders (who are already unsure if your obsessive knitting is healthy).

"Does this sock look smaller than THIS sock?!"

I think it is only smaller by two stitches in the width, and I may be able to save it by blocking. Otherwise, my parents have assured me, that they can't see a difference and no one will notice.

But it is going to drive me crazy, and I've decided that perhaps sock knitting isn't for me.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Plain old, grey socks

I am attempting to knit something that I never thought I would ever attempt to knit: a pair of socks.

Okay, so most knitters openly admit to knitting socks on a regular basis. I've read other blog posts about knitters who love to knit socks, who talk about different techniques, who make beautiful lacy creations that I am jealous of. But I never thought I would see the day that I was this far along my very first pair of socks.

I'm knitting them for my grampa.

Why was I always hesitant to knit socks before? Because there are two. Anyone who knows me, knows that I am a starter of projects. I have hats still on the needles. I have granny squares in purple, knitted squares in baby pink and yellow. I can go through my stash at any given moment and find projects that I have forgotten all about. Clearly having to knit TWO of something (with the option to get distracted) would not be a very good idea. HELLO LOST SOCK BIN!

But here I am already almost finished the second sock. It's a beautiful pattern that I found at Knitting Pattern Central. It's a basic pattern for Men's Socks. There are several patterns called Men's Socks or similar. I chose this one because it was on four needles, and did not require me to use the magic loop technique (and force me to go out and buy yet another needle, when I know that I have a needle to do magic loop somewhere and I can't find it).

I have learned a few things about sock knitting like that it was easy to start the second sock. Knitting socks is challenging and rewarding. After I worked one heel and one toe, I was ecstatic to have to do the next one. Once I saw that my creation really actually looked better than a regular store-bought sock, I was already mentally making a list of who else I could make a pair of socks for.

But perhaps I should just focus on getting this project finished before I cast on to another set of needles.