Monday, December 31, 2007

Knitting Resolutions

I'm not a big fan of resolutions. It's the researcher in me. People say "I want to be healthier", "I want to lose weight", "I want to start running". I think - how are you going to do that? What is your measurable outcome? To me, goal-setting makes more sense. Set an attainable goal and try and get there.

So, I'm making Knitting Resolutions/Goals. Measurable with timelines and specifics.

1. Everything that is currently on my needles will be off my needles by July 1st. If not, it's ripped. This includes the beast of a never-ending sweater. It includes those socks that I lost (and now have found). My Rowena is in there as well (but in breaking news, it's blocked and partially sewn together....).

2. I will only buy yarn that has a specific purpose in mind. I'm trying to reduce stash enhancement. After cleaning out my yarn bins yesterday - I realize I don't really need any yarn. I have tons. So I need to use up what I have. But, let's say I want to knit my boys new sweaters - fine. I can go get yarn specific to that project but nothing else. There is a little loophole with this....sock yarn is ALWAYS specifically for socks, so I can get away with that. (these are my resolutions, so I make the rules).

3. I will donate any unused balls of yarn to a women's shelter. I have unused balls that just sit and sit. I think I'm going to use them someday and they're still there. They would be better served helping someone else. So next December 31st I will pass them on. I have visual record of everything I have to date, so I can easily purge next year.

That's pretty much it. I have lots of knitting I want to do, and dream of doing. We'll see what 2008 holds in store for that.

In a last tip of the hat for 2007, I present my most proud piece of knitting from the year (since SPM asked)- my husband's sweater vest. It's not complicated, but it turned out beautifully. The best finishing I've ever done by far. I took my time and it was worth it. And, he's worn it twice already. He just may be on his way to a full sweater next year....

Saturday, December 29, 2007


Christmas is such a busy time of year. You bake. You knit. You shop. You wrap. Then it's over and you feel like you've been hit by a truck and a your house is overtaken by boxes and wrapping paper.

I finished the Dragon Skin Wrap for my little one and it garnered many compliments from my aunts on Christmas Eve. I used Butterfly cotton which has a lovely sheen.

I also managed to finish off my Christmas Kerchief but only by the skin of my teeth. (Where did this saying come from? You've got some serious problems if your teeth have skin.) It was finished blocking on the morning of Christmas Eve. I broke from convention and wore it tied to the back which was cozy indeed.

Having some free moments in the holiday bustle, I cast on a vest for my nephew using some Blue Sky Alpaca Organic Cotton I had lying around. I consulted Ann Budd's pattern central and whipped up this little number in a couple of days.

I am currently trying to read Cat Bordhi's mind. It is, in fact, very difficult. I cast on the Jeweled Steps from her new book in a luscious cashmere sock yarn. Cat thinks in such a new way that I find that I must interpret many of her instructions. Her descriptions are good but she uses terms and language that I am not really familiar with. All in all, I think I'm learning something and the finished pair will be appreciated by the intended recipient.

By the way, we got a new camera for Christmas. It makes my knitting look pretty good, don't you think?

Thursday, December 27, 2007


Yep. That's my goal for the next few days. Between Christmas festivities, sick kids (VERY sick kids), too much food and drink, I'm hoping to get in a little relaxing over the next couple of days.

My love and I picked up the Sixth season of 24 today. It's been our tradition for the last several years to watch as much 24 as possible over the holidays. We can't watch in on a weekly basis - far too intense. So we pack in 2-3 episodes a day, between cleaning up the Christmas tree, parenting and other busy activities.

Since my Christmas knitting was completed a couple days before Christmas, I also finished 2 other items.

My Tomten - now finally designated for my baby.

And my Warm Christmas Wrap.

I wore it Christmas eve and I love it. It is warm and fuzzy and adorable. And somewhat whimsical. I can't seem to think of too many more adjectives to describe it!

As 2008 is around the corner, I'm trying to come up with a few new projects. I have not picked one yet, and over the last couple days have been pouring over my knitting books, diving into the stash, ravelling and trying to come up with something. I'll keep you posted.

In the meantime, Jack Bauer is beckoning....

Sunday, December 23, 2007

The Reckoning

Here it is, in all its glory.

J.'s Christmas Knitting Tally

1 shawl

2 scarves

3 sweaters

14 pairs of socks

Now, in my remaining hours before Christmas Eve dinner, I plan on finishing off a Kerchief for myself. This is my progress thus far. I started Friday morning.

Now wish me luck. I hope you've been more nice than naughty this year and that Santa finds your chimney.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a Good Knit.

Friday, December 21, 2007

It's not over till the big man drinks his milk and eats some cookies

Well - it's done. All of it. The knitting for the season is complete and it includes the following:
- 4 hats
- 4 pairs of socks
- 1 clutch
- 1 shawl
- 1 big blue blob

I even managed to throw in a wrap for myself to wear Christmas eve.

Gotta go get a start on those January birthday presents (seriously -J. has to have a birthday in January - it's very stressful....).

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas. See you on the other side of the big day.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Keeping Your Cockles Warm

T. and I got together for a little Christms gift giving. More than that it was a time to finally unveil some projects that have been kept secret for quite some time.I made T. a Huckleberry Ascot in orange, her signature color. (T. did you know you have a signature color?) It's cozy alpaca and of course she wears it well. Now T. can whip up a matching pair of mittens, right?

I also got her some green laceweight silk/seacell in Vancouver in August. I can't tell you how many times she bugged me about getting her some of that silk and could I please get some for her and hey, if I'm going to Vancouver maybe I could just stop in to that silk store if I had time. Leave me alone! You have 1.5 km of laceweight to ball up. Get crackin'!

T.'s little dudes got some handmade socks which will be extra slippery on their hardwood floors. (I love Lorna's Laces, don't you?)

My little princess and I got a pair of handknit hats. Hers has a flower on top. It is her new favorite thing and she insists on wearing it around the house. It is very cute, especially when it falls down low and she has to tip her head back to see where she is going.

And can you believe that T. hand dyed yarn for me? Who knew she was so talented? It is soft and the colors are very vibrat. I love these colors and can't wait to whip up some new socks! I made T. promise to have a dying day with me for my birthday in January and then again for hers in February.
**Mush Alert**
It's nice to have people that share your interests like coffee, shopping and knitting. It is something altogether different to meet someone who can be yourself around and not feel judged. Not everyone would put time and energy into making a mess of their kitchen just to add food color to sheep's hair in a color that they don't really like just because they know it would make you happy.
Thanks for the hat and the gorgeous yarn, T. But more importantly, thanks for your friendship. Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

These are a few of my favorite things....

I have to say raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens are not some of my favorite things, even if they were Maria's favorites (and I love Maria). She did get it right with the warm woolen mittens, of course! But the season does evoke some of my favorite things.

I love Christmas music. Love it. I know in general it's viewed as being corny and ridiculous, but the thought of baking Christmas cookies while listening to Sleigh Ride or Mele Kalikimaka is wonderful to me (and what says Christmas more than Bing Crosby? Not much, frankly). My favorite Christmas album is the iconic Boney M Christmas. Mary's Boy Child by Boney M. That's Christmas all wrapped up in one song for me.

The finishing of knitted gifts is also a highlight. I'm so close to being done everything right now, and it makes me feel content. I put a lot of effort into those knitted gifts and the feeling of finishing is worth it. Only the big blue blob which has some minor finishing, is left to complete. I did it. I finished what I wanted (other than one pair of socks which has been deferred to a March birthday instead) and it's good. I even surprise myself sometimes.

One thing that has moved off the list of things I dread, to things I look forward to, is blocking. Ever since going to the Lucy workshop, I've been blocking pretty much everything. I'm converted. This blocking; this is good. It works. Things look better. It's easier to seam up a sweater that has been blocked (and seaming up is usually dreadful to me). It may have to do with my little blocking pins I got that are all yellow and cheerful. Or, it's the results (likely a bit of both). I still haven't blocked socks yet, but I read somewhere that Ann Budd (who knits A LOT of socks) doesn't block her socks (except for photoshoots); and I figure if Ann doesn't block her's, I'm not blocking mine.

I also quite enjoy the Christmas chaos. I like going to the mall when there's a flurry of activity. The feeling of being in the vortex of chaos, yet not feeling chaotic myself. I have a few minor things to pick up and it's not dreadful to me to have to wade into that pool (as long as the boys are left at home of course...).

Weddings. Ok, to be honest weddings are not one of my favorite things, but I didn't know how else to segue into this. My office-mate Catknip went off and got hitched all secret-like on the weekend. I'm very happy for them. Congrats to Catknip and the man who winds our balls!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

9 Knitting Days Left til Christmas

Ok, so the last pair of socks is off the needles. I feel a little better about life now that I know that I don't have to knit another pair of men's socks for at least a few months. Why did I leave the huge socks til last? That was unwise at best. Ah. Now I can think about more selfish socks. (Cat Bordhi, I hear your siren call.)

And the last Christmas gift on my needles is progressing nicely. It is a cute little wrap for my cute little kid from Holiday Gifts. I really like this project. You do the sleeves at the same time as the body so it just seems to flow.

Unfortunately, I'm paying a price for knitting this. My pair of rosewood 4mm straights snapped while I was mid-row. I'm beginning to think I might be the kind of knitter who prefers circs to straights. It's too soon to pass judgement.

I am, however, very tempted to knit things for myself. And some people out there in blogland are not helping. (I'm talking to you, Sarahjanet. Keep your crazy two colored mitten talk to yourself. ) So in the fullness of time, I plan on knitting this, and this, and maybe this.

2008 is looking good.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Tis the Season... play in the snow

 enjoy Christmas concerts spend time with favorite cousins put the finishing touches on Christmas gifts finish Christmas gifts try and stay sane while everything around you is insane (no comment needed about my sanity J...). I'm hanging in there. I have 2 things left to complete and I actually think they'll both be done.

I can't wait to knit something for moi!!!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Oh Dear

Why do we buy our kids expensive gifts when the boxes they come in are more fun?

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

It's the Most Stress-ful Time of the Year....

Christmas is such a busy time. People who are normally very pleasant turn into animals in shopping malls. They steal the last must-have gift out of your cart, they cut you off in the parking lot, they snear and snap at everyone. Gifts must be purchased and wrapped, shipped or delivered. Cookies need to be baked and tested, cards mailed, parties attended.

Knitters are no exception. Last night, T. and I went to Stitch and Bitch where many of us were frantically knitting on presents that need to go under the tree. We stress about finishing this project so that we can move onto that one. We could fit in one more pair of socks, right? Another sweater or shawl should be doable in the next 2 weeks, yes?

I just remembered that all this stressing about knitting is distracting me from my craft. I have been forgetting the happy thoughts and warm wishes that I like to work into knitted gifts. It's time to pay attention to the wearer of my knitted gifts and weave in a little love.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Looking for Inspiration

I'm in need of some knitting inspiration. Last night, I didn't even feel like picking up my sticks. Weird. I always want to pick them up, I always want to feel the yarn as I throw it around the needle.

I know this knitting lag is temporary. I think it's related to the impending deadline and all I need to accomplish between now and then. I know it's related to the fact that I want to knit some new socks for myself. It's also related partially related to all the secrecy surrounding my current knitting activities. But this will come to pass.

I was cleaning the bathroom this morning and listening to my iPod. Since my running is currently on hold due to some knee issues (which I don't want to discuss) I don't get a chance to listen to my favorite podcasts like I used to. There are not too many benefits to cleaning the bathroom, but listening to podcasts is one of them. I was listening to Cast-on, my absolute favorite knitting podcast. Brenda was talking about a recent trip to Italy on a fibre tour. She talked about knitting with Italian knitters who spoke no English and how wonderful it was to all share passion in knitting and new stitch patterns. She had an essay about how knitting and time are relative; how we won't live forever but our knitted objects will be passed down for generations. Inspiration packed into 50 some odd minutes of knitting love. This is just what I needed to pick up that 2x2 rib hat that seems endless, or that big blue blog of wool that I can't talk about.

Thanks Brenda - you gave me just what I needed today. Now back to that gray hat....

Thursday, December 6, 2007

J.'s Christmas Workshop

Everyone is busy in J.'s Christmas workshop. The elves are baking almost every day. They've even done a little decorating. Yes, everyone in J.'s Christmas Workshop is busy getting ready for Santa.

Buttons have been selected and attached.

Heels have been turned.

Gifts are being blocked and new ones cast on.

A clutch has been whipped up in preparation for celebrations! (I think I'll be making these as gifts next Christmas so if I know you and you'd like one, let me know. They're way faster to knit than socks!)

It's even lined! Sometimes, these elves really do impress me.

And just to keep you tied to reality, I present the ghost of Christmas past.

(T. would like you to know that this gift was knit with love. Why else would you continue to knit this scarf? Gauge is a grinch.)

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

I'm not buying what you're selling

You know when people try and convince you of something. Something that you firmly believe is wrong or crazy, but someone will work really hard to shake your foundation of beliefs. I just want to tell them "I'm not buying what you're selling".

Case 1:
Nylons with open-toed shoes. My mother (who was raised by quite the fashionista) believes a proper lady always wears nylons or tights. I often balk at this - mostly because finding comfortable tights for my 6'2" frame is near impossible. I have to buy the xx-queen size in order to be able to pull them up. I get the ones that fit 250-300 lbs and hope they'll stretch vertically rather than horizontally. Anyway, back to my original point. Open toed shoes are in - and supposedly wearing them in winter is ok. With your tights. I did this once and I couldn't stop looking at my feet. I felt self-conscious all day long - I thought someone was going to come up to me and say "That's not appropriate dear" (with my grandmothers inflection). So no matter how many fashion mavens say "it's ok" I'm just not sure I'm buying what they're selling. Your thoughts?

Case 2:
That this pattern is going to work.

J. and I joined this sock club. Beautiful yarn, good price. Our first sock club (in preparation for '08 Rockin' Sock Club). And the promise of nice patterns with the yarn.
The actual stitch pattern is nice - easily memorized, only a 4 row repeat. I can handle this with no problem, right? Oh no, so so wrong. I knit the heel flap, turned the heel and started the gussets. The pattern wasn't centred on the front of the foot - so I frogged. Back to the start of the heel, re-centred the pattern, re-started the heel flap. *&$()*&ed it up - somehow kept dropping a stitch. Ripped back AGAIN. To me, 2 frogging incidents means something's up. The yarn or pattern is cursed or there is a toxic combination of yarn & pattern. Now I'm contemplating my options. The yarn is supposedly a little heavier than fingering, so I'm looking at patterns that use a bit heavier yarn. The only problem is that these on are the Christmas To Do list and I can't weigh my options for too long.

Case 3:
That this kid hasn't been naughty.

Buddy - I'm not buying what you're selling. And neither is Santa.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Homage (noun) (def) an expression of high regard

It is cold in our little neck of the woods. I won't tell you how cold because I don't want to scare you. Suffice it say that it is best to stay indoors which is what I did this weekend. I put my little knitter down for a nap each afternoon, covered myself up with an afghan crocheted by my Baba and watched Elizabeth Zimmerman unravel the mysteries of the knitted universe while I did a little knitting of my own.

Homage #1: That Elizabeth knew a thing or two about knitting and it is no wonder that most knitwear designers cite her as an inspiration. She made two color knitting look possible. She cut (gasp) her knitted projects and it wasn't terrifying. She even took scissors to the garter stitch vest she was wearing in order to demonstrate her afterthought pockets. Have you ever cut your knitted work much less something that was hanging off of you at the time? Unreal. No wonder everyone wants to knit what she did. She just makes it seem so simple and straight forward. I find myself wanting to knit her Seamless Yoke Sweater. She's very convincing.

Homage #2: So while I watched Elizabeth teach me to cast on, knit, purl, increase, and decrease, I picked up my Montego Bay scarf. Now, I love this yarn. I love it like I've never loved yarn before. It glows in sunlight. It is smooth and lustrous. It smells faintly of the sea and whispers of sandy beaches and far away summer. The colors are vibrant and remind me of the city after which it is named. Sigh. If I could only knit with Seasilk in Paris, I would be happy. The Tuscany shawl that started my affair with lace is a favorite and I like to fondle it in my closet when no one else is around.

That is how I feel about this yarn. And I'm going to give it away. I'm going to give this glimmering scarf to my mentor, the person who first handed me a pair of metal needles and some crafter's cotton and taught me how to knit. My sister in law, who is one of the craftiest gals I know, is the only person I can think of who will love this yarn as much as I do. AND it will look terrific on her to boot.

This is my Sister, not my Sister In Law.

This is not my Sister In Law, either.

Homage #3: Now that I've completed 4 of my estimated 7 remaining Christmas projects, I'm starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel. That light is my birthday and I always knit myself socks for my birthday. To ease the loss of the Paris Seasilk, I'll be knitting myself some socks in Paris Casbah. I think you'll agree that nothing says homage like cashmere. Now, please help me decide what socks to knit with this precious yarn. Do you think Thelonius is the right pattern? How about these or those? What should I knit as an homage to me?

Sunday, December 2, 2007

The STASH Survey - Updated Results

So I got some grief from fellow people in the research biz about the name of our survey (the BMPISS survey). It's true - I'm in a profession where naming your study is important stuff - entire meetings are spent trying to come up with appropriate acronyms. We like names like HOPE, LIFE, BRILLIANT and PRAISE (I did not make any of those up - these are actual studies....)

So no, I didn't spend much time coming up with the name of the sock stash survey - sorry. Unfortunately - this blogger thing doesn't earn me any money, unlike my real-life job where I get paid to come up with study names.

Here were some of the suggestions:

SOCK - Stash Of Crazy Knitters

ADMIT - BaAD Medicine Informal poll of sock sTashes

STASH - Survey To Assess Sock yarn Hoarding

All excellent suggestions - but I felt STASH encapsulated our objectives best, and all important criterion for study naming. And the person who suggested this name watched some Oprah show on hoarding and is somewhat concerned about this now (you're not anywhere near those crazies yet Lauren).

Here are some numbers from Edmonton Ravelers:

Jillygirl admits to 17

dandelionfluff to approx 40

bonebagz to 10

No one else wanted to respond...can't understand why....

I'm not going to do any formal statistical analysis (oh, I could, trust me) to correlate size of stash with different personality characteristics, or financial status, or age, or sex. Maybe I'll apply for a grant to further our research in that area...but until that time, I think the average is somewhere between 1 and infinity and since we all land somewhere in there, we're all average and none of us has a problem.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Method to My Stashness

T.'s post has got me thinking about my stash and the types of yarn that I buy.

When I was a newer knitter, I would only buy yarn for the projects I had in mind. I would make a trip to the LYS, sometimes with a friend and sometimes alone. It was always a special treat and I would linger in the shop, touching this and feeling that. I would usually end up coming home with enough yarn to make one or two projects and maybe a ball of sock yarn. In the beginning, my stash was nonexistent as everything was either on my needles or the next in line.

There came a time when I started to amass a stash. I'm not sure what brought this on. It may have been that I was home on a mat leave and had some free time to browse the net. I learned what yarns other knitters were raving about and stalked the online stores that I found for sales or deals. Red Bird Knits was my first online store. They continue to be one of my favorites, with their stock of Lorna's Laces and assorted Fleece Artist and Handmaiden products. Eventually, I found other stores and convinced friends to make purchases with me so that the shipping wouldn't be so bad.

Now I've graduated to knitting tourist and seek out yarn stores in new cities. My husband is very understanding of this and is patient while I sift through the stock, occasionally waving a skein of yarn at him and saying something like "We don't have Koigu at home!" or "This Silk and Seaweed Laceweight is a real steal!"

I seem to have amassed a large quantity of sock yarn. Maybe that's because I have become the Christmas sock knitter in my family. Every year, nephews and neices get new socks and pretend to like them. (I think they enjoy the fact that woolen socks are very slippery on their hardwood floors.) I see my Dad wearing his crazy blue-striped socks around the house and my big brother wears his handknit socks every weekend. Socks are useful and worn often. Socks are for everyday family life.

I also have a little laceweight sitting around waiting for the right project. I think this stems from my pride in the knitted lace I've made and my desire to share this with loved ones. Or maybe just myself. Last week, I dug out my Hanami to bring to work with me. I wasn't feeling well and I wanted to be cozy. I told my daughter it was my binkie. I knew she could relate.

No matter what yarn I buy, it seems to be meant to warm and comfort. What's in your stash? And how did it get there?

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Knitting by Numbers (the BMIPSS survey)

We all have it, but we never like to actually put a number on it. We have it hidden in multiple places, receipts still attached, hoping that if it's not all in the same place, we never actually have to admit to the size of it (or if there's a natural disaster, we might be able to make away with a portion of it). The stash.

I have tried to limit mine to my coffee table. It has 3 large baskets in in - perfect for my evening knitting time. Easily accessbile, all in one spot.

Unfortunately, some of it has migrated (perhaps multiplied???) to here....

and here....

I decided I wanted (?needed) to evaluate my sock stash. J. and I have some sock plans for 2008 (you'll just have to wait and see what they are...). So in preparation for this, I dove into the stash and pulled out all sock-related yarn, and asked myself this:

"How many pairs of socks can I knit from my stash?"

And I ask you this question too? How many can you knit?

In the Baad Medicine Informal Poll of Sock Stashes (or BMIPSS for short), we have come across a variety of different sock stash sizes, from minimally invasive (4 for andi) to severely protruding (upwards of 52 for some UNNAMED office mates). Most everyone falls somewhere between that (I can admit to 11, J. to 21. Someone we met at the Lucy Neatby workshop admitted to triple digits. Yes, triple digits).

How do you measure up? Is your stash minimally invasive - only minor intervention needed to clean it up? Or is it affecting your everyday life - protruding from every open orifice? Baad Medicine wants to know.