Monday, August 30, 2010

Planning for September

Last week was awesome. I spent lots of time crafting, but I wasn't under any pressure. All I had to do was finish Spock and work on Dragonflies. I finished Spock ahead of schedule and life was good. I even prepared for the upcoming KALs I'm starting this week. My crafting mojo rocked. But September is almost here, which is just that much closer to birthdays and Christmas. I'm going for a completely hand made Christmas, which means I should have started the crafting a couple months ago. Oops. At least I'm thinking of it now instead of in early December like I usually do!

Even though I should be focusing on gifts, I started the Mad Hatters KAL today with my super awesome TioLiRR swap group. For those that don't know, KAL stands for knit-a-long. This time around we're knitting bettymcknit's Ggester (pattern is on sale now for the KAL if you want it at a discount and knit along with us) and since there's a bunch of HP fans in our little group there's at least one person from each house knitting in house colors. I am, of course, knitting mine in green and silver for Slytherin. Yeah! I've decided this is going to be my lunch time knitting project so I'm not eating up my big blocks of crafty time with something silly just for me. I'm already to row 6 of the ribbing!

Wednesday will be the first day for the After Hours Shawl KAL. I'm really excited to start this one because it will be my first attempt at knitting lace and working with beads. Mom really liked the look of it, so this is going to be her Christmas present. I hope to finish it fairly quickly so she still has time to forget about it before December 25th rolls around. The pattern won't be released until Sept 1st, but my yarn and beads are ready to go!

I just put the finishing stitches in on the first triangle of Dragonflies. I'm under my predicted time and hope to keep reducing speed. Didn't take a new picture because I'm lazy, but it doesn't look a whole lot different than it did yesterday. I have a month left until I have to ship it out - lets hope I don't so distracted with the new projects that I forget about it. I'm still really enjoying working on it so I don't see that being a problem... yet.

This afternoon the BFF sprung on me that she'd really like some fingerless gloves in Seahawks colors so now I'm looking up patterns to see what I can throw together for her birthday. I have between now and Oct 19 to figure out and execute colorwork. Eek! Somewhere in there I should also start working on my Knitting Masters program since I received the coursework today and bought my swatch yarn, figure out wtf I'm going to make for Dad for his birthday and/or Christmas (he's the worst person to shop for, even harder to make things for), and start crocheting sparkly snowflakes. The next couple of months are going to be crazy!

Day 9, Triangle 1: 17 shells = 1 hour 10 min
Average: 4.1 minutes per shell
Total: 153 shells = 11 hours 25 min

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Super productive weekend

I was totally the queen of multi-tasking this weekend. I woke up on Saturday, decided that I had a bunch of stuff I needed to get done, then jumped right in! On Wednesday I received a bunch of bare yarn and dyed a couple of skeins on Thursday. They were still drying in the shower on Saturday so I decided to add more yarn! 5 skeins kettle dyed!!! I came up with some really cool colors, and discovered that I apparently have something against the color yellow. This is the second major dyeing weekend that I made every color but yellow. Weird! The ones I dyed yesterday are still drying so I hope to have pictures soon, but in the meantime I can show off the ones from Thursday that are finally dry :-)

Bruise - Superwash Worsted

Currently Untitled - Superwash Sock

In between running back and forth to the crock pot, I did a ton of clerical work on ravelry. Updated my queue and did some organization (still need to work on that), added to my stash page, and did some research for upcoming swaps. I even got some more work in with my graphic designer for the labels she's designing for my yarn. Yay!

Today was all about more rav work, lunch and yarn shopping with Valeta (she loved the yarn I dyed and named after her - can't wait to see what she makes with it!), then back home for some actual crafting time. While at Main Street Yarn, I fell in love with a couple skeins of yarn, but due to my current yarn diet I was in pain over the idea of not buying them. Then brilliance struck! It's time to start thinking about xmas presents if I want a handmade xmas, so I was able to justify the purchase. I got the yarn for a KAL I'm starting this week (more on that tomorrow), and 2 skeins of mini mochi for a shawl for a receptionist friend of mine. I love the mochi and it's in colors I'd never use for myself but I'm sure it will be just beautiful on her.

While at Valeta's I was able to finish Buffy's arms and get some more work done on the Dragonflies shawl. I finished up the few rows on Dragonflies when I got home and now all I have is one more row of shells left on the first triangle! I feel like this is going quicker than I expected, though there's still a bunch more work left to do.

Mom was really productive this weekend too and made me a couple of new project bags! A Slytherin one for my Ggester KAL and a special sized Very Hungry Caterpillar one for my dolls so they don't get squished in my other bags. There's also a couple more in the works. She rocks like that!

Inspired by my new awesome bags, I decided to be a good girl and do my swatches for the 2 KALs I'm starting this week. I got to play with the new yarn and my gauge was right on the mark. Can't wait to cast on my hat, but it's going to have to wait for tomorrow. At least I'm all ready to go now! Woo hoo :-D

The other major thing that happened this weekend is that I signed up for the TKGA Hand Knitting Master Level 1 program. It's going to be a ton of work, but I'm really excited! Just waiting for my coursework to arrive now...

Day 8, Triangle 1: 31 shells = 2 hours 5 min
Average: 4.1 minutes per shell
Total: 136 shells = 10 hours 15 min

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Who was that pointy eared bastard?

As you may or may not have figured out by now, I've been working on a Spock doll for a few weeks. One of my coworkers requested a look-alike of the "new hot Spock" for his daughter's 16th birthday. Now, I'm not much of a Star Trek fan, but I do enjoy the new movie, and I'm a huge Zachary Quinto fan, so I reallllllly didn't mind doing the research for this little guy.

When I finally got out my copy of Star Trek on the second or third night working on Spock, I was in the middle of working on his second leg. As I'm swearing at my work and ripping out the leg because I wrote the pattern incorrectly, the scene comes up where Kirk gets suspended and he argues with Spock. As one final profanity flew out of my mouth, Spock walks away and Kirk asks "Who was that pointy eared bastard?" Since then that's what I've called the doll. Now it's a term of endearment more than it was when I was mad at the leg.

Unfortunately, Star Trek is only a couple hours long, and there has certainly been more time put into Spock, so I decided to start a Heroes marathon via Netflix to get my fill of Zachary as Sylar. This lead to a whole new appreciation for Sylar and entertaining pictures below - a 2 part series I like to call "Spock meets Sylar."

As if it couldn't get more disturbing than that... it was finally time to start working on his hair. Balding Spock looks entirely too much like my dad. My dad even has slightly pointy ears! Does this mean I'm part Vulcan?!?!?!

Today at lunch I finally finished him. He's awesome and fantastic and doesn't look anything like my dad anymore. I really had a blast working on him and now I just have to edit the pattern and get it ready for publishing! Custom orders rock!!!

In between working on Spock I've still been working on the Dragonflies shawl...

Day 5, Triangle 1: 12 shells = 1 hour
Day 6, Triangle 1: 13 shells = 1 hour
Day 7, Triangle 1: 14 shells = 50 minutes
Average: 4.4 minutes per shell
Total: 105 shells = 8 hours 10 minutes

Monday, August 23, 2010

Kaylee Pattern Now Available!

Can you believe it? I've finally put a pattern up for sale! After extensive editing and testing and all that jazz, My Kaylee Frye pattern is now available for purchase for $4. Hopefully I'll have more available in the not-to-distant future. Woo hoo!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

A Weekend To Dye For

Last weekend I spent the vast majority of Saturday and Sunday dyeing yarn, and this is what I came up with. When I got home from my sailing adventure today I set them all up on my swifts and reskeined them so I wouldn't have big blocks of color in the same spot. I think it really helps show off all the variations of color throughout the skein. I'm so excited! I love the way they came out, and I had such a good time dyeing that I think I'm going to take a shot at selling my dyed yarn. I've discovered that my favorite method for dyeing seems to want to start felting the yarn, so I think from here on out I'm only going to work with superwash so I get the results I'm really looking for. So... without futher ado... picture time!!!

Peppermint Ice Cream - Bulky (137 yards)

Falling Leaves - Worsted (3 skeins at 220 yards each)

Alien Slime - Lace (800 yards)

Purple People Eater - Fingering (440 yards)

Dusk - Fingering (440 yards)

I even got some time in this evening to do some more work on the shawl. I'm pretty tired so I only got one more row done, but my time is finally starting to improve. Yay!

Day 4, Triangle 1: 11 shells = 45 minutes
Average: 4.1 minutes per shell
Total: 66 shells = 5 hours 20 minutes

Friends Don't Let Friends Knit Drunk

Alcohol + pointy objects = not a good idea, especially when yarn is involved. For those that know me, you know that I'm not much of a drinker, and the one time I attempted knitting a dishcloth after one bottle of Mike's hard lemonaid was not a happy evening. Lots of dropped stitches, screwy tension, and swearing. Not a pretty picture. But no one ever says anything about crocheting and drinking...

This weekend I had an adventure on the high seas! Ok, so it was a short sailing trip from the Everett to Hat Island, but it was definitely not an everyday event for me. On Saturday morning several of my coworkers piled into 3 boats and headed towards Hat. At one point I even got to steer the boat. Go me! Good thing I had my pirate shirt on ;-)

Eventually we made our way up to the house, unloaded all the overnight gear and food, then got to relax. We sat around chatting and drinking and life was good. Especially when they made a big bowl of the best slushie ever. Fresh peaches and raspberries in a large mixing bowl with some tonic and a whole bottle of Skyy vodka. My kind of fruity awesomeness. This is definitely in my top 5 favorite drinks! Anyway, once the yummyness was gone, and we continued to sit around chatting, I decided it was time to break out the yarn. Based on past experience one might this this wasn't a particularly bright idea, but that wasn't about to stop me - I was going through yarn withdrawal. I was good and even kept track of my time. Can you believe that I managed to keep to my rate of 5 minutes per shell???

By the time I'd finished 2 rows (19 shells), dinner was ready and I put the yarn away for the rest of the weekend. I had a killer headache anyway and was getting pretty tired. We ate dinner, chatted some more, watched part of the Seahawks game, then it was time for bed. This morning I was pretty much a zombie, but didn't need much brain power to pack up the sleeping bag, eat breakfast, and head home. I was soooooo happy to get home. The weekend was fun, but that's a lot of time to spend with coworkers and I'm not particularly looking forward to going back to work tomorrow. Oh well. When I got home I just crashed. Now that my brain is starting to work a bit better, I did the math on the crocheting (no way was I up to that last night) and got out the shawl to inspect it. I'm very proud of myself - the tension is even, I'm not missing any stitches, and I don't have anything crazy going on like 15 posts in one shell. Yay, I don't have to take anything out!!!

Now it's time to go work on the pointy eared bastard or reskein yarn. It's so good to be home and back to my yarn :-)

Day 3, Triangle 1: 19 shells = 1 hour 35 minutes
Average: 5 minutes per shell
Total: 55 shells = 4 hours 35 minutes

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Time For a New Shawl

The doll I've been designing lately has been giving me problems for the past few days (friggin little pointy eared bastard), so I decided it was time for a change of pace. Last night my Knit Picks order arrived full of all kinds of scrumptious yarn such as my Springtime Shadow Tonal lace yarn. I instantly popped it on the new swift (so in love with the new swift!), wound it into a cake, and went off to knitting group.

I spent most of group working and reworking the pointy eared bastard's arms, gave up, and started work on the Dragonfly Shawl. All I had time for was the gauge swatch (which I recently learned is VERY IMPORTANT), and it measured up perfectly! Since I was so stressed last night, it didn't really come out to my liking so I decided to start over today at lunch. With my pattern book sitting out on the table, a coworker came up to check it out then asked a million questions about it - the most interesting one being "how long does it take you to make something like this?" I honestly didn't have a clue. It's been forever since I timed anything I've crafted, so I decided to pay attention this time around. In the following half hour I was able to eat my sandwich and complete 6 shells, so 5 minutes per shell.

When I got back to my desk I decided to quickly do the math. 153 shells per triangle, 2 triangles = 306 shells. 182 shells at 5 minutes each equals 25.5 hours!!! That doesn't even count the panel of dragonflies in the middle. I'm hoping that once I get into a rhythm with the pattern that it isn't going to take me 5 minutes per shell, but I felt like I was moving pretty quickly. So... here's the goal: I'm going to keep track of time worked on this shawl and see if I can do it under 25 hours. Ready? Set.... Go!!!

Day 1, Triangle 1: 28 shells = 2 hours 20 minutes
Average: 5 minutes per shell
Total: 2 hours 20 minutes

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Scarlett - The Evil Shawl From Hell

Just over a month ago I decided I was going to knit a shawl for my swap partner in the Night at the Movies swap through Swappers Anonymous. It sounded like a great idea going in. I needed something to represent Gone With the Wind - one of my partner's favorite movies. What better than a red ruffly shawl inspired by one of my favorite dresses worn by Scarlett O'Hara? The pattern was Multnomah and the yarn was Cascade Heritage Paints in the 9926 colorway. Beautiful and soft and squishy - I was in love. If only I knew about this colorway's evil past... but more on that later.

This is certainly the largest knitted project I've ever tackled and I've only completed something crocheted in this size once. I really didn't think about how long this was going to take, but I was excited to get started. The first rows just flew by! I started knitting it on July 13th, and by the following week I was this far (including lack of knitting time on vacation):

When I started, I thought all that garter stitch was soothing. It's much better than miles of single crochet, but after a while it got to be quite tedious. Right around the time I was getting really bored with it, I got to change to the rippled edge. It was a great change in pace and I got to learn a new knitting technique. Go me! Bella liked it too :-)

Then disaster struck. In one evening I had to rip out the same row 3 times because I was totally distracted by an episode of Burn Notice then I ran out of yarn on the last row. I knew my shawl would hold up the shipping date of my swap box (it was due to ship July 31st and by now it was Aug 10th) so I had stayed up late to finish it so I could block it then ship it out that Friday. Can we say complete meltdown? Word of advice, staying up late to knit after a frustrating day is a BAD IDEA. By this point I was freaking out, posted a panicked plea for help in a couple of my groups on ravelry then attempted to sleep. I was so stressed about the shawl that I only got about 2 hours. Oy. I spent the next day in a horrible mood and spent all of lunch ripping out the last 4 rows. At this point I should have listened to the majority of advice and just cast off then, but I was determined to get the last repeats in. I joined some blue yarn in hopes of bringing out the blue splotches, but it clashed horribly and made it look cheap. Did I follow my instincts and rip it out right away? No - I kept knitting. On the last row I was still in a horrible mood, the blue made the shawl look worse, and I ripped those rows out again. Then I rejoined the red and cast off like I should have before. That evening I went to knitting group where I finished knitting it, and one of the women told me about how this colorway is cursed. It's beautiful yarn, but this is the 3rd project she's known of someone who has had problems using this colorway. One project involved a ton of mistakes and the other became a tedious never-ending scarf. Fair warning to anyone out there wanting to use this colorway.

Now time to block the shawl! This was the first time I've ever blocked knitting so it was a learning experience as well. Bella was "helpful" in keeping the shawl flat too. Since my lace blocking wires hadn't arrived yet (darn that ground shipping) I used dental floss to keep the lines straight. Not the best plan ever, but it mostly worked out ok.

I completely finished it on Saturday, brought it to work Monday to show it off, then shipped it out today. So much work for a complete stranger, but I'm sure she'll like it. I've never been happier to give away one of my creations though. I never want to see the damn thing again.

So what did I learn from this adventure? Gauge swatches are crucial! I don't know if I was knitting too loosely so I ran out of yarn, or if there just wasn't enough there. I also learned that if I'm going to do something insane like knit a shawl for a swap, I need to give myself LOTS of time. Also, I should just stay away from all things Gone With the Wind - I hate the movie with a firey passion, so why would I think knitting something inspired by it would be a good thing?!?!

Time to get back to some crocheting...