Are you panicking yet?

Wisp scarf, knit using Debbie Bliss’ Angel yarn

Now that the turkey has been consumed – along with the green beans and sweet potatoes and stuffing, not to mention the pumpkin pies – we have started the stress filled countdown to Christmas. 27 days…less than four weeks…are you feeling dizzy yet?

I’ve been working on my Christmas knitting since the middle of summer, and I’d be done if I weren’t so easily distracted. But since I appear to have the attention span of a gnat on crack (thanks to my lovely husband for that phrase), I have completed quite an impressive number of projects, but only two Christmas gifts.

It was with this serious deficiency in mind, then, that I found a couple of really great projects that I’d like to call to your attention if, like me, you find yourself with an ever dwindling amount of time and a list of finished objects that refuses to grow regardless of your efforts.

First up is “Wisp”, a very pretty scarf knit with silk/mohair yarn whose beauty belies the complexity of the pattern. A shortish scarf can be made with a single skein of yarn; two skeins will result in a luxuriously long, fluffy strip of mmmmm! I’ve used Debbie Bliss’ “Angel” yarn, and the 15 row pattern is so easy to remember (you really only need to keep track of your rows) that I was able to knit up the first skein in less than a week whilst working on a bunch of other stuff at the same time (in other words, I knit for about an hour at a whack once or twice a day over the course of a week). In addition to being really quite pretty, people will think it took immense amounts of skill and focus to create when, in truth, 99% of the greatness of this scarf is due to the yarn.

Alberta Clipper Boot Socks (Ravelry link), knit on size 4 needles using Cascade 220 yarn

Next are the “Alberta Clipper Boot Socks”. Knit in worsted weight yarn on size 4 needles, I was able to finish the first sock in less than a day, and the second one is nearly finished as well.

I used Cascade 220, and the results are incredible. They’re thick and squishy, and look soooo very warm. As soon as I’m done with the Christmas knitting, I’m going to make myself a pair. And maybe a pair for each of my kids. And Alex (yes, they’re quick enough that I’d be willing to knit a man-sized pair). Spike (our chihuahua) might even get some.

I have some more quick ideas, but I’ll have to tell you about them tomorrow.

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I only have how long?

This morning my co-worker walked into my office and said, “Can you believe it’s only____months until Christmas?”

My heart beat sped up, and I could feel my head getting lighter as my fingers started to tingle.

“Never,” I admonished him, “mention to a knitter how little time there is left before Christmas.

Note: only click the link above if you are: a) not a knitter; or b) a masochistic knitter.

I’ve been so busy with work (oi! work!), chauffeuring my lovely children about, and Sock Summit stuff that I really haven’t started on my Christmas knitting. Not only have I not started, I’ve barely thought about it. Last year I started in July, and didn’t finish until late January/early February.

People, it’s already the middle of August. I am SO behind schedule. I need to make a list… wait. First I have to figure out where I wrote the names of the people we have for the gift exchange this year.

Phew! I didn’t find the list, but I used the amazing powers of my memory to recall them. This time, though, I wrote them down (they’re in the Moleskine graph paper notebook, the one with the thumb gusset designs for Letty’s mittens…this is a note to myself so the next time I can’t remember the names, I’ll at least know where to look).

OMG, I just fell down the Ravelry Rabbit Hole while looking for “manly hat” patterns. “Habitat Hat” is on my list twice already, and I need to mix it up a little. I found quite a lot of lovely patterns, but then got distracted by a scarf, which led me to the designer’s page, which allowed me to view a whole bunch of her other patterns.

I got distracted again! How is my list – not to mention the actual knitting of stuff on my list – ever going to get done? I’m going to go take a little walk, and come back to this later.

Mine, all mine (for now, anyway)

Ok, so I got distracted from knitting the second pair of sock summit socks after the first one was done

In Season by Melissa Morgan-Oakes, from the 2009 RSC

because I finally finished spinning all the yarn I need for the mittens I’m making. First to be knit is the pink (which you’ve seen before) and white (which totally hurt to spin after using the lovely stuff I’d dyed – soooo boring! and which you’ve not seen because it was too dull to photograph).

Oh yeah, I made that…

I’m not using a pattern for these so much as I’m referring to several for guidance and inspiration, and using Alice Starmore’s “Book of Fair Isle Knitting” for the colorwork patterns.

By the way, the several I’m using for reference include:

  • “Bird in Hand” by Kate Gilbert – to figure out about how deep the turned cuff should be (btw, on size 0 needles, I knit 6 rows before and after the turning row)
  • Latvian Mittens” by Lizbeth Upitis – to estimate how many stitches to cast on using size 0 needles (I used 72 )
  • “Andalus Mittens” by Heather Desserud, plus the two above, to figure out roughly how many stitches wide to make the thumb gusset (I tried the mitten on at 17, but it seemed a little tight. I’m going to go up to 19 to accommodate the padding caused by the floats)
Here they are so far.
I’ve been winging it a bit with these, picking out the stitch patterns as I need them. I really like the pattern on the back of the hand, although it’s hard to see in these photos because I’m only halfway through the first repeat and the fabric is curling onto itself. The thumb gusset and thumb itself are being designed on the fly as well…for every stitch/row I add, I put a couple more dots on my paper.
These are, in my opinion, the coolest mittens ever, because I dyed the wool (er, baby alpaca), I spun the wool, and I knit the wool. Plus, I’ve been doing TONS of math to try to make these work out; not good or correct math, but I’m trying (yesterday I tried to fit a four stitch pattern into 70 stitches evenly not once, not twice, but three times. In case you think you should give this a go, don’t bother – it doesn’t work).
I also finally finished spinning the yarn for the second pair of mittens (fingerless mitts, actually). This was exciting because I needed brown yarn, and wasn’t having any luck creating brown. After several tries, however, I got this:
Yeah, I made these too.

On to Sock Summit Socks part Deux

I did a short celebratory dance on Saturday when I finished my HoarWars2010 socks, then moved on quickly to finish the Hedera socks that had been languishing sadly in a paper lunch sack since mid April (I got distracted). I just looked back thru my posts, and I notice that I haven’t even mentioned these poor little socks since April 5th, but I must have been knitting on them occasionally, because when I took them out on Saturday afternoon – seriously, mere moments after I’d finished the other ones – I only had two pattern repeats to do before starting on the toe. I completed the knitting part on Monday at lunch, but I didn’t have my darning needle with me, so I couldn’t graft the toe closed.

In fact, I still haven’t grafted the toe closed. Hold on, I’ll be right back.

…almost done…

…DONE!

Hedera socks, pattern by Cookie A, from knit. sock. love. Knit with Knit Picks Imagination Hand Painted sock yarn, Make Believe colorway.

So anyway, on Monday, at lunch, after I’d finished all but the grafting for Hedera, I started on my second pair of Sock Summit Socks. Admittedly, these ones are kind of cheating, since they’re anklets, but they have fussy little cables that, although charming and lovely, are a pain in the butt to knit.

In Season, pattern by Melissa Morgan-Oakes, from the 2009 RSC (yeah, I’m lagging a bit on my RSC kits). Yarn is Heirloom from Blue Moon Fiber Arts (sent with the kit, but not available on their site. I just checked.)

They’re further along now than they were in the photo above, but I’m going to wait to show them to you again until I’m at least done with the heel. By my calculations, I have to finish these over the weekend in order to have any hope of finishing a third pair by the end of July. Ok, I’m off to knit!

Not Always Knitting

Occasionally (very occasionally) I do something other than knit.

Shocking, I know.

This weekend I was presented with a problem that knitting couldn’t solve. This problem wasn’t actually mine – it was Sami’s – but I was enlisted to help come up with a solution. Here is what I devised, and Sami created.

The most impressive part, besides the fact that the hard covers were made by gluing (many, many) paper bags together (because I didn’t have any book boards), and that all of the inside sheets started out as loose leaf paper but were torn down to fit inside the journal, and that Sami sewed the binding herself is that these photos were taken by Sami, with my phone, in a moving car.

Three cheers for Sami! She truly rocks!

Empty Needles? Where?

As has become my habit, the completion of a challenging project (in this case, Crichton) brought about the casting on of several more, without thought or regard to anything I have already started.

First, I started in on “A Cardigan for Merry,” for which I purchased some Wool of the Andes – Sport Weight. I love cables, but the ones for this sweater (designed by Kate Gilbert originally for her “Arwen” sweater) are kicking my butt. The cables cross on every right side row, which makes my knitting super tight. If anyone has any suggestions as to how to alleviate and or cheer up my tense, angry cables, I welcome them, especially since, just three inches into the pattern I’ve set it aside in favor of some non-finger breaking, non-squint inducing knitting.

A Cardigan for Merry by annypurls, using size 3 needles and Wool of the Andes Sport from KnitPicks

Which brings me to the next project that leapt onto my needles while I had my back turned. “Rock Island” is back, this time on the size six needles the pattern requested, and my progress has been swift. I re-cast on on Tuesday evening, and when I counted last night, I had 42 of the 71 edge lace repeats completed. I promise I won’t go on and on again about what a genius Mr. Flood is, but this edge piece is so much fun to knit, I might just keep going, and end up with a very skinny scarf. Each repeat is eight rows and takes about five minutes to complete. This is important to someone who often only gets to knit in five minute intervals! Only slightly more than half done, and without blocking, the edge piece is already nearly four feet long, which bodes well for the finished dimensions.

While I was taking these photos, Max brought his knitting into the bedroom and asked that I take pictures of him and his yarn, too. And so, I present to you Sir Max and his knitting…

See you later, and have a fun and safe Memorial Day Weekend!

One pumpkin done, one on the way

Well, if everything goes as planned and on schedule (HA!), Penny should be here in about 5 weeks. We’re all very excited, although Max still doesn’t seem to understand what a “Penny” is. The other night, when I was putting him to bed, he asked me to rub his “penny,” and lifted his shirt so I could pat his belly. I’m confident, however, that he’ll do fine once she’s here, since he really does like babies a lot… at least, he likes them in the wild, as we pass them in the store and leave them there with their own families.

I’ve started doing the Non-Stress Tests (NST) due to my “Advanced Maternal Age” (that still kinda ticks me off – I’m not a youngster, but I’m not old, either), and at the end of yesterday’s test, the very lovely nurse gave me a couple new pics of our little pumpkin.

Isn’t that cool? While she was doing the ultrasound, we watched Penny rubbing her eyes and swatting at her cheeks. It was especially cool because I could feel her movements and see them at the same time.

On a similar topic, whilst at Starbucks on Tuesday, as I sat selfishly knitting on a pair of socks for myself, a lady asked if I’d made a lot of things for the baby. I was rather ashamed to admit that, while Penny has received several very lovely handmade gifts from friends and relatives, I’d yet to knit a single thing for her. So the next day Max and I ventured forth to Clever Knits to pick up supplies and ideas; fortunately both are always in ready supply. We came away a skein each of orange and green Cascade Heritage sock yarn, and a plan for a pumpkin hat for Miss Penny to wear home from the hospital.

Here it is, as modeled by a ball of Cascade 220. I’ll make the leaves if/when Max takes a nap this afternoon, and get another picture for tomorrow.

Next to be added to my needles will be this:

The smallest size is for a 6 month old, but I think that if I do it with the green sock yarn and smaller needles, I should end up with something that she can wear a bit sooner. We’ll see. I may have to go pick up some tiny onesies again to use as a size guide. I thought about just bringing my tape measure to Target with me and measuring some random babies, but I’m shy, and that would almost certainly be an awkward exchange that could possibly end with in the Security office being held until a psych evaluation can be done. And I’m pretty sure they don’t let suspected crazies play with yarn and knitting needles, so this would be a doubly tragic scenario. I’ll just stick to the onesies.

Finally, I apologize for being so long between posts. Now that school has started again, Sami & Jojo have commandeered the kitchen table for doing their homework, and since that’s where I usually set up to take my pictures and write, I’ve had a tough time getting to it. I know.  That’s a really lame excuse. But it’s the only one I’ve got, and I’m going to stick with it.

See you all soon!