Monday, December 31, 2007

Resolutions Old and New

Today, another year draws to a close, and it's time to take stock. For this purpose, I pulled up my list of New Year's resolutions for 2007. How did I do? Let's take a look!

1. I will finish my cross-stitch UFO. It has been sitting there for 7 years, that's enough.
It's still sitting there, unfinished. I guess this one gets carried over.

2. I will try Fair Isle knitting. This one is left over from last year. What can I say, I'm a coward when it comes to colorwork.
I did it! I finished a stranded colorwork project a couple of days ago and will blog about it as soon as it reaches its recipient. It uses three colors, even, though never more than 2 per row. I'm still freaking proud of this thing.

3. Start holiday gifts in time to actually finish.
Well... kind of. I finished the last gift 1 day after it was due, so that's an almost.

4. Knit more socks.
Yes. I think I knit around 6 pairs this year, including Sock Pal socks and other gift goodies.

5. Knit a lace garment that has shaping in the lace part, not just the stockinette section.
Nope, didn't do that. Another carryover!

6. Learn to crochet properly. By that, I mean learn to crochet something other than a dishcloth.
I did crochet something other than a dishcloth, so I guess that's a yes. I discovered the magic of combining crochet and felting. Stick your almost-FO in the washer and watch your mistakes disappear!

7. Get in shape. Not moving makes my inflammatory arthritis worse. Also, I need to get in shape so I can
I'm doing a bit better, but still not really -- another carryover. But this year, I'm definitely going to

8. do the breast cancer walk.
Too many people I know have either been diagnosed with breast cancer or have had a breast cancer scare this year. I need to do something about it, even if it's not much.

9. Stop being a coward when it comes to applying for jobs. I mean, why?
I did that. Got two offers, accepted one. Yay, me!

10. Eat healthy. Junk food makes the hormones unhappy. Unhappy hormones make me unhappy. It's not a good thing.
I'm doing much better on this one. Now, I eat healthier, and I'm working on switching to a completely vegetarian diet. I feel good when I don't eat meat, and I have a soft spot for fuzzy critters.

Which brings us to this year's resolutions. That was a 50% success rate... it could be worse. In addition to the carryover, I want to

1. Become a vegetarian. I've been eating less and less meat, but the key to success for me is to not replace meat with carbs. I can't eat tofu because it messes up my hormones, the husband is allergic to onions and peppers, it's going to be a challege. But once I get used to doing the cooking and planning a certain way, I'm sure I'll do just fine.

2. Really get cracking on ye olde professional development. Continuing ed rocks.

3. Knit up a large portion of my stash. I'm not ashamed of the amount of yarn I own, but there is so much I bought when I was a beginner and didn't have a clue what I was doing. I mean, 10 skeins of mustard/purple colored chunky yarn? Yes, it was on sale, but... what was I thinking???

4. Knit even more socks.

5. Do a better job keeping in touch with my friends. Friends are a blessing and should not be taken for granted.

6. Try entrelac. It's so pretty.

7. Sell all the clothes I haven't worn for a year or more on e-bay. There are people who would love them and wear them more often. My going out days are pretty much numbered, and I now wear corporate clothes 5 days out of 7. Out with the frilly, lacy stuff, welcome, new corporate goth wardrobe!

I think that's it for this year. Together with the carryover, it brings me to 12 resolutions for 2008 - let's see how I do this time around.

And in case you're wondering what I'll be doing New Year's Eve, I won't be knitting. I'll be playing the Lord of the Rings roleplaying game with Mr. Batty and some friends. Yay for geeky activities on a night when we'd stay up late anyway. Makes me feel like a teenager all over again.

So, to all you people out there, knitters and non-knitters alike: Have a happy, healthy new year. See you again in 2008!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Take a deep breath...

...because the holiday knitting is finally done. The last piece is a little late, but it's washed and blocking and heading out to its recipient as soon as it dries. I'm quite proud of this one and can't wait to show it off!

Loads of pictures are coming up as I finish all the WIPs that have been waiting for the holiday extravaganza to be over. In the meantime, I give you this picture to tide you over:

Confused pirate or witch with black cat familiar? You decide!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

SP Package (lots of pictures)

It's been a while since my last post. Super Secret Christmas Knitting will do that to you, as will the fact that I'm not done yet and must knit longer and faster in order to get everything done. Fortunately, there are other things to put on one's blog, like the fabulous SP package I received from Eryn.

She mentioned sending something for the kitties. It was when Morgana jumped on my lap and wouldn't stop sniffing the package that I began to suspect what that "something" might be.

She wouldn't go away. No amount of shooing, moving, or tempting with cat toys would do the trick. This was a cat on a mission!
"Sniff, sniff. There's something in there, and it's for me. Don't try to mess with my head, woman, I know catnip when I smell it!"

Organic, weapons grade catnip, to be exact.

A pinch of this stuff on their old cat scratcher, and they were sniffing, licking and rolling. These cats sure like their catnip! It's fair to say that this particular package was a big hit with the kitties.

While I didn't start out by sniffing the package, I am just as thrilled with its contents. Look, it's a black bat washcloth, together with some of Eryn's wonderful soap. Almond Biscotti, yum! I never sniffed the package, but I sure sniffed the soap and can't wait to try it.
And those little white pearly things are stitch markers. They look a bit like tiny snowmen, very cute.

Then, there is the key lime taffy and the orange marmalade. And a little flip-flop key chain. Goodies from sunny Florida, sent to snowy New England, and a very nice reminder that this winter storm will end someday, and the sun will come out again.

Before it does, though, we can enjoy the spiced cocoa in the snowman mugs. Sit in front of the fireplace, watch the snow outside, and sip hot chocolate. And I'm taking some time off around Christmas, so I know what we'll be doing with our free time!

There was some chocolate in those mugs, but, um, something happened to it. Can't take pictures of it, sorry! : )

Maybe I should also mention that Eryn can read minds. When I first saw the Ice Queen pattern, I decided I needed to get my hands on some black laceweight mohair and knit one for myself. Now, look what came in the package! Yes, that's black laceweight mohair, together with a note mentioning that it's intended for the Ice Queen. How perfect is that?

By the way, black laceweight mohair has the same effect on Morgana as off-white DB Cashmerino Aran. She can't resist it, which is why I'm holding it in one hand and taking a blurry picture with the other. Every time I tried to set it down, she was on it within a fraction of a second.

There was also a little bell ornament, which serves a double function:

These cats love bells.
And we're all saying thanks to Eryn for sending us a wonderful package. It really is amazing.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Secret Knitting... and another Incident

There has been a lot of secret knitting of late. Holiday gifts, birthday gifts, all sorts of gifts I don't want people to see ahead of time. But now that my sister's birthday package has arrived, I can share at least some of them.

A while ago, I knit an Odessa as an SP gift, and I really liked it. I liked knitting it, and I liked the finished result. Because I have to be able to take my knitting on the train, I decided that it was also the perfect gift for my sister's upcoming birthday, with a few modifications.

For one thing, I left off the beads. Don't get me wrong, I love the beaded version, but I was going for a different look, more everyday item that would go with thick mittens than delicate beaded hat. So instead of the DK weight the pattern calls for, I went with DB Cashmerino Aran, which is soft and cushy and simply wonderful. I wanted something that was really going to keep my sister's ears warm.

Unfortunately, the spiral on top of the head was difficult to photograph, but the stitch definition is lovely.
The biggest risk I took, however, was not with stitch definition. Even though I picked a thicker yarn, I decided to use the needle sizes called for in the pattern. I wanted to knit at a tighter-than-called-for gauge for this yarn to achieve a nice, dense fabric. It worked, and I was so happy the hat didn't turn come out enormous!

Pattern: Odessa (for link, see above)
Yarn: Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran in color 300001 (They probably dunk this stuff in catnip to achieve this wonderful off-white; Morgana goes positively berserk when I'm working with this yarn!)
Needles: US #4 and #6 Addi Turbos, knit pretty tightly on purpose
Modifications: No beads and aran weight instead of DK. In spite of the thicker yarn, I knit the 5.5" called for in the pattern before starting my decreases. I wanted a hat that would keep my sister's forehead warm and cover her ears. Warm ears are important.

And, speaking of Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran, here is a picture of the Fetchings I am knitting out of the same yarn. I went down two needle sizes, and they are still loose. My wrists are tiny (not even 5 inches), my hands are small, and this glove is wobbly instead of stretchy on me. Also, I don't think the picot castoff works for me on this particular project. The glove has more of a sturdy look, and the picots are elegant/playful in a very feminine way that, to me at least, doesn't go with the rest of the glove. I think I'll either cast off in pattern or use EZ's sewn castoff the next time around. I'll also leave out 10 stitches -- if I go down another needle size, I'll be knitting on 3s.

Now, about the Incident. If you look closely (click on the picture), you'll see that some stitches aren't quite even, and that some ends have worked themselves loose. That's not because I'm a sloppy knitter. I was lying on the bed reading when I saw the cats run in. Merlin had something in his mouth, and on closer inspection, turned out to be my Fetching. Mr. Batty, attracted by the horrified sounds coming from the bedroom, ran over and rescued it. The kittens are so lucky they're cute!

This is what keeps them from continuing their existence as a pair of fuzzy slippers. They are so adorable. As for the Fetchings, I'll try felting them a little when both are done. We'll see if the 33% microfiber will be enough to prevent this from happening.