Monday, December 28, 2009

The Julie Room

So over Christmas break (my whole four days off, woo?) I decided to paint and organize our guest bedroom aka The Julie Room (it's a long story). Since it's basically all I worked on for three days straight, I thought I would share some photos. First, the before...

And then, the after!

Yes, that is my entire stash of yarn and fabric, all fitting into a spot designated for it, instead of half in an organizer, half in a bag in a corner. I learned a few things while I was doing this room, first and foremost.. I truly underestimated my stash. I thought out of all groups (wool/animal fibers, acrylic, natural fibers, sock yarn, dyeable), the least amount of any was sock yarn. Umm.. no, not so much. In that white organizer (first photo in the "after" series) the sock yarn is that entire top shelf. If you're looking at it saying "that's not so much", keep in mind that the white organizer is three feet deep and it's FULL behind that front layer. I could knit nothing other than socks for all of 2010 and I guarantee I'd still have yarn left next year. It was a real wake up call for me, and as beautiful as sock yarn is, I'm happy not to be adding those numbers.

Other things I learned: how to use drywall screws, how to hang a real curtain rod (not just one made of aluminum that snaps into the wall) and very importantly.. that even purple paint scrubs off of wood floors with a little soap and water. I'm immensley proud of my room that I did all by myself, and really couldn't have asked for a better result.

I will be updating hopefully in the next few days with a 2009 year in knitting wrap up, as well as 2010 knitting goals. But for now, I'm going to lay down, my whole body feels put together wrong and it's time to get some rest.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Warmest Mittens

Happy first day of Winter, all! I'm definitely in full on nesting/hibernation mode these days. On Friday we went to Ikea and spent about $160 on a new bookcase, some curtains, and a bunch of picture frames. On Saturday we went to Target to get some more picture frames and also picked up another small book case. After unloading all of our books into the two new book cases.. we still have nearly an entire box of paperbacks waiting for a home. Ugh. When the hell did we get so many books? We have FOUR bookcases and apparently thats not enough room. I'm considering going through them on my break this weekend to sort out what can go into storage or different rooms. I'd like all my knitting books in the craft room (aka our guest bedroom). They could just go in a floating shelf in there or something.

Other then putting together everything and shopping, I baked for half the day on Saturday. Oh man. I made 2 huge batches of rice krispie bars, one with butterscotch and one with reese's peanut butter and some chocolate too. I also made a double batch of Russian teacakes and had my first attempt at buckeyes (basically peanut butter dipped in chocolate). Everything turned out awesome, except the buckeyes. I don't know if it was the recipe or if I did it wrong, but eh.. they're not my favorite. Also, I did get a fair amount of knitting done this weekend. I've been making steady progression the Log Cabin Afghan of DOOM, and am almost ready for another log. I've averaging half a log a night from about an hour of knitting. It will DEFINITELY not be done this year, but I'm hoping maybe by the end of January it will be. Realistically I have about 1100 yards left to knit on it at the bare minimum, possibly more. I'll take another progress picture in a week or two.

One thing I did do this weekend was make myself a pair of mittens. This was one of my 2009 knitting resolutions/goals, and I started and completed it on 12/20. Way to go, procrastination! Also, it figures that I make them when its 40+ degrees out, instead of a few weeks ago when it was record lows for a week straight. Ah well. After a very extensive search and a tough decision, I used the Warmest Mittens pattern. I used about 130 yards of two different colors of Plymouth Baby Alpaca (worsted). The cuff was knit on size 3 needles (my ribbing always runs HUGE) and the body was knit on size 6 needles partially because I'm a very tight knitter, and partially because I didn't have size 5 needles LOL.

The first mitten knit up perfectly, but the second.. well.. I was watching the Vikings game, and .. we lost. And my already tight-knitting got even tighter as the game went on, and thus, the mitten is a wee bit smaller. But, luckily I have small hands and both fit me well.

After adding another 130 yards to December totals, it brings my December yardage up to 1360 yards and my 2009 yardage to 7219 yards. Not too bad, and really it's a few hundred more yards then that, I just haven't added up the progress yardage for the afghan in a few weeks. My 2009 goal was to break 10000 yards, and while that definitely isn't going to happen, I feel like breaking 8000 is still a possibility.

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Worst Hat I've Ever Made (and other stuff!)

I've been knitting for a month past eight years. My first project ever, a scarf, was a behemoth. It started out, on size 10.5 aluminum needles, with 30 cast on stitches. I stopped knitting it a few days later because after a foot in length, it had doubled in size. It turns out I was mistaking the first stitch of every row for two stitches, and I learned from it and moved on and although I haven't loved everything I've ever made, I would say that everything I've made since then has been something I've enjoyed making, wearing or gifting. I can also say that I've learned a lesson from almost everything I've knit, which can really console a person when their finished project isn't quite as intended.

However, I cast on for a hat this summer that is now officially The Worst Hat I've Ever Made. Seriously. I broke the two cardinal rules of knitting (well the only two I have, I guess.. I really like to wing this shit most of the time).
  • #1: Disregard what people say they want if it's too specific and they aren't in a position to know what the hell they're talking about. For example if someone says I WANT A RED AND HOT PINK STRIPED FLOOR LENGTH DRESS MADE FROM CRUSHED VELVET! I'm sure they *do* want that, but as a creative person, as a designer, we know better. We interpret their idea and make it into something that doesn't collapse into a ball of suck.
  • #2: Take your time, don't be impatient, even if something feels like it's never going to end, just suck it up and do it. I've fallen victim to this before when I made my mother a beautiful cream colored Irish Hiking Scarf that was only 30" long. I called it a "scarflette" and put a broach on it. She promptly gave it to the dog (I'm completely serious).
So, like I was saying, I broke the only two rules I ever even follow in knitting with this hat. The recipient said they wanted something with a loose gauge, to which I responded that normally with bigger/looser gauge items (that aren't lace shawls) you use a chunky yarn and go up a needle size. The problem with this is that I was making this hat from stash (remember I'm cold sheeping!) and I don't HAVE any chunky yarn. Okay, I said I'll do it with worsted weight and just on a little bit bigger needle (10! when normally I would have used.. 6 or 7? I should have seen the warning signs..). I did a seed stitch band, then knit for about 3.5 inches before starting crown decreases, but by that time.. the damage was done. This was supposed to be made for an adult male with a fairly largish head (24-25").. the gauge was so loose that unstretched it is more like 27", stretched is 30"+. Anyway, so I already knew by this point that it was way.too.big but I told myself JUST FINISH IT and started the decreasing, without any real plan (normally I do a k6, k2tog row, then a knit row, then a k5, k2tog row, then a knit row, etc, and NORMALLY it turns out beautifully). But I was so mad at this hat already that I just started doing random decreases. Oh! It looks like there hasn't been a decrease for a few inches, lets throw one in! Two decrease rows next to each other? Sure! Gah. Okay. It's just bad.

What makes it worse is that I have nothing to learn from this. I'm going to frog this hat because looking at it makes me want to hurt people, and there is absolutely no way I would give someone a knitted garment that is in this condition. I'm going to frog this hat, and I don't want to remake it so badly that I'm considering just forgetting the whole thing and telling the recipient that I don't have time to do it. Which, isn't untrue by any means, I
still haven't gotten around to making myself a hat or gloves set (one of my knitting goals for 2009, and something I've desperately needed the last few weeks). For right now, the hat is going in the knitting room, inside of a bag where it will lay out of my sight until I know what to do with it. It will be frogged, and I probably will redo it, but it's not something I can even think about doing right now. Sigh.

In other news: there has been actual productive knitting lately. In November I knit
744 yards, which isn't a whole lot, but considering I took a week long vacation and was working close to 200 hours, I think I did alright. In November I made a lot of progress on the Log Cabin Afghan of DOOM! and also made these two little Zune cozies. One for me and one for my work friend, mine is red and his is black, they're both Zune 120G. I used Noro Kureyon in colorway 90 on size 8 bamboo DPNs. Each cozy used up about 30 yards, and only took around 2 hours from start to finish.

So far this month, I've finished one sock, technically finished the UGH WORST HAT EVER, and have made a lot more progress on the afghan of DOOM! Right now I'm sitting a little over 1200 yards, but the month is not even half over and football playoffs haven't even started. This sock is Premier Yarns Serenity in Thyme, and is part wool, part bamboo and of course part nylon. The jury is out yet, as the yarn itself is really quite thin and I ended up with several breaks in the finished product before I even put it on my foot for the first time. I'll give it the benefit of the doubt though until the other sock is finished. The pattern is just my personal adaptation from Silver's Sock Class (mostly made a little smaller to fit tighter around the arch of the foot).

This is a current picture of the blanket, you can see I just cast on for another row (at the bottom). I would be over the moon if I could finish that blanket this month, but I don't believe it's in the cards. I want to finish the pair of socks, and also FINALLY make myself a hat and glove set. I have some ridiculously gorgeous and plush Plymouth Baby Alpaca (worsted) set aside in lt blue (to match my cowl) and charcoal. I haven't decided on a pattern or anything, but I need to get this done. It was so cold this last week that we set all time low temperature records here for 4 consecutive days. Better yet, during those four days, the pipes in my attic froze and then exploded and now we're looking at the better part of $5000+ in damage. Technically $3200 was the plumber alone (to insulate and replace the burst pipes). We have top of the line 3/4" thick copper pipes in our entire house, but the ice ripped a gash 3" wide through that pipe, and now all of the insulation in the attic and the living room ceiling need to be replaced. There was 1.5" of water on the floor, after it crashed through the ceiling. It was the most stressful night of my life, without question, and I'm thankful for some old xanax I had laying around or I might have had a nervous breakdown and died right there on the living room floor. Hahah. Well, thank god for home owners insurance, right?

Now that it's taken me an hour to write this, I need to go to bed. Hahah. No progress on the blanket tonight!