Sunday, September 26, 2010

26 Hours 45 Minutes

That's how long it took me to crochet the Dragonflies Shawl. I'm never timing anything ever again. That was such a hassle and I don't think I really wanted to know how long it actually takes. Knowing means that someone should slap me the next time I say I want to make a shawl for a swap. Seriously, how stupid was this decision?!?! The minimum time that's supposed to be spent on the large item is 2 hours. Yeesh. Well, I never claimed to be sane, right?

This is Mom modeling the shawl. After this picture she decided to run around the front yard pretending she had wings. This apple so doesn't fall too far from that tree!
 I'm really thrilled with how it turned out though. Going into this project I knew it was going to be larger than the Scarlett (Multnomah) shawl, and even though I had the finished dimensions staring me in the face on the pattern page, I still wasn't expecting it to be this big. Really came as a surprise when I went to block it. I thought it was pretty while I was working on it, but the way the lace opened up just took my breath away. Unfortunately I didn't think much about the size when I was ordering my blocking mats and now I wish I'd ordered 2 sets. Oh well, I made it work with what I had. This sucker has a wingspan of 60 inches and it's 30 inches long.

During blocking - yes, there are places where the shawl is pinned directly to the bed because I freaking need more puzzle pieces

Hanging out with the Mad Hatter and Captain Jack before blocking
I absolutely love it. Breaks my heart a bit to pack it up and ship it out. It will be winging its way to my swap partner tomorrow in the super awesome treasure chest flat rate box that I spent entirely too much time decorating yesterday when I should have been working on my socks. Since my spoilee has no idea who I am and I'm fairly certain she doesn't read my blog, I'm going to go ahead and give you all a sneak peek of what I just finished packing up. This was for the Pirates swap in the Odd Ducks group on ravelry. Yes, dragonflies are extremely piratey. Just go with me on this one ;-)

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Frogging Without a Tantrum

Remember when I said that I was going to make mitts for me because I wanted to reclaim my crafting mojo? That totally didn't happen. Even after the knitting retreat last weekend I'm still in a major funk. My projects don't currently thrill me. There's nothing that I'm just dying to finish. It's a problem :-(

My plan for the knitting retreat was to finish Dragonflies (which I totally did and it's awesome and pictures will be posted eventually) and finish these mitts. I knew that cooler weather was coming, they'd be good to keep me warm at work, and mitts don't take that long so why not? It so didn't work like that. I worked on them all weekend when I wasn't spending time on the computer, swearing at the crappy wifi connection in our condo, or getting tips and practicing spinning.

I finished the ribbing and moved on to the cables. That's when I discovered that I left home without my cable needle. Apparently dark yarn in bad lighting on size 2 needles is not the right time to learn how to cable-without-a-cable-needle. Stitches were dropped, swearing occurred, then I realized I could use one of my interchangeable tips for a cable needle and I was good to go. After a few rows of the pattern, I discovered that I was having major problems with laddering going from needle 1 to needle 2 using magic loop because I broke up the stitches in the wrong place. Deciding that I really don't need to be a perfectionist and I can live with a bit of laddering if the rest of the mitts are awesome, I continued on.

I obviously didn't finish them on the retreat, and I didn't even finish one pattern repeat (needs two before I can even think about increasing for the thumb), but I brought them with me to work and knitting group to keep plugging along. I wasn't paying enough attention at knitting group and ended up crossing two of the cables in the wrong direction. I didn't discover it until three rows later and I wasn't willing to knit back three rows to fix it. Again I tried to tell myself that I don't need to be a perfectionist, and The Doctor would probably appreciate the unique quirkiness of the incorrect cables (I was telling myself anything at that point to be able to keep knitting without too much stress), so it's ok to ignore them and just finish the damn mitts.

The next day at work I planned on working on them at lunch, but I only got one row done because I kept looking at where I screwed up. This was not the quality I was used to, but my hands were freezing at my desk that morning and so I should just finish them, right? That night I just couldn't take it anymore. I reached the point at which I could choose to have a short wrist and start increasing for the thumb, or do another repeat and make them longer. I tried them on and contemplated my options, and then realized that I hated them. The pattern is beautiful, and I love the yarn, but they just don't work together. It wasn't what I wanted. I spent more time drooling over the awesomeness of how the colors played out on the back plain side than the intricate cabling. That's when I knew I needed to frog them (for those that don't know, "frogging" knitting term used when you rip out your work because you "rip-it, rip-it, rip-it"). You all know how much I hate knitting back to fix a mistake, and how ripping out a few rows (like on that lacy shawl I'm supposed to be working on but I'm still grumpy about it and refuse to touch it) makes me cranky, so the idea of frogging a week's worth of work on tiny needles made me want to cry.

But I didn't cry. I pouted a bit, but no tantrums were involved. The only time I swore was when I texted BFF that I was ripping them out and "f*** knitting - pointy ended sticks SUCK." Not the most mature of moments, but believe me that that's pretty good for me when it comes to frogging. By this point it was about 10pm on a Thursday, I knew I needed to go to work in the morning, but I also knew if I didn't fix them and start a new pair right away that I wouldn't ever finish them. I found a new pattern, started watching Boondock Saints on Netflix (because Irish accents and violence always helps), and began ripping them out.

I dug out a pair of size 1 needles (yeah, they're super tiny. 2.25mm) and started over with Koigu Wristers. I was only able to knit about 8 rows by time the movie was done, but I was feeling good about the new ones. The mitts fit so much better than the first pair. I was excited to work on them again at lunch yesterday, and even got them right out when I got home to continue working on them. Now I'm to row 20 of the ribbing and I'm excited to finish this post and get back to working on them. Maybe my crafty mojo is starting to return!!!

Thank you so much for reading this far. I know the entire story could have been taken care of with a simple blurb like "My Tenth Doctor Mitts suck so I ripped them out and started over. I didn't even cry or swear and now I'm working on new ones that are significantly more awesome." But that didn't convey the growth I went through for these. I am and always have been a crafty perfectionist. Just the fact that I didn't give up on them with the laddering problem was an amazing improvement for me. I've never ripped something out and started all over again. Normally I'd fight it to the death to finish it, or cut off the yarn and work on something else. The idea of frogging always seemed painful to me. I'm happy to say that I survived though. Maybe this means I'm growing. Or not.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Getting to know you

Here's the second part of my homework for week 1 of HSKS12. It was a lot of fun getting to know everyone and discovered some amazing projects in the works (I'm talking about you, Genevra Dreamy) and that other people agree that soft and squishy yarn is all that matters!

  1. Someone with the same craft as you (either those listed above or another one): Angelina Frysia is a fellow quilter :-)
  2. Someone who was born in the same month as you: November babies unite! Gryphon the Great
  3. Someone from a different country: Emma Wigworthy is from the UK and is an amazing designer! I'm totally drooling over her seriously cool Slytherin socks
  4. A new HSKS Family member: Hey, look - a newbie like me! Delantrophy Griey
  5. Someone who has been in 3 or more HSKS swaps: Megaera Black
  6. Someone who has a bigger stash than you!: Of course this is just going by the posted rav stash. I still need to finish cataloging my stash. Oy. Rowena Bladvak
  7. Someone who both knits and crochets: There's a bunch of bistitual crafters in this group including Genevra Dreamy
  8. Someone who has the same favorite color as you: Amethyst Aurag didn't really list a specific favorite color, but she likes bright clear colors like me and that's what counts :-)
  9. Someone who has the same favorite season/holiday as you: Bella Shacklebolt gotta love the holidays!
  10. Someone who has the same favorite fiber as you: Ambyr Phoenixfyre is a fellow lover of soft and squishy yarn.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

You spin me right round, baby

I've hit a bump in the road with my crafting mojo. Hate it when that happens! I finished the triangles of Dragonflies and now it's time for the gusset, but the pattern isn't working like it's supposed to and I'm frustrated. I'm used to this with knitting, but I can figure anything out with crocheting except for this damn gusset. Now I'm in a funk and it seems to have spread to all my other yarny projects. Erg.

The only thing I'm really interested in knitting is the Seahawks Mitts because they're so different. But they take lots of focus and I haven't been in the mood to deal with untangling the yarn. Next time I decide to do 2 colorwork mitts on one needle, please throw something at me. I'm up to row 21 now though. Go me.

My new Knit Picks order arrived today, and with it was the yarn for my Tenth Doctor Mitts - inspired by David Tennant in Doctor Who and using Marge's Mitts pattern. I've decided I need to make something fun for me. In hopes to get excited about a new project and reclaim my crafting mojo, I started them at knitting group tonight but they didn't seem to help improve my mood. Only got 3 rows into them and I'm not sure if I'm going to like the way the cables work up with this busy yarn. I'm feeling pretty underwhelmed by them.

The best thing about group tonight was that I learned how to spin with my drop spindle! Since I bought it a couple months ago, I haven't had much luck. But yewberry came to my rescue tonight and I totally got the hang of it. I love it when the light bulb clicks on. So even though I don't want to deal with knitting or crocheting, I have spinning to look forward to at lunch tomorrow - along with the book I just can't put down (Wicked Appetite by Janet Evanovich).

Monday, September 13, 2010

Getting to know me

The first week's assignment for HSKS12 is to get to know each other, so this is my "all about me" post. I'll come back and update it over time to keep likes and dislikes current so it can be used for lots of other swaps too. Well, that's the plan anyway, let's see if I can stick to it ;-)

Crafts: Crochet, knit, dyeing yarn, stitch markers, jewelry, quilt, cross stitch, attempting spinning,  lots of other stuff too...
Fibers: Anything soft and squishy especially an undying love for sock yarn and Malabrigo. Hate scratchy yarns. Even Red Heart has a place in my stash - perfect for amigurumi.
Food: Pasta and ice cream. Love chocolate (reeses, snickers), kiwi, lime, vanilla, cookies (oreos), crackers (cheezits, wheat thins, goldfish), cashews
Drinks: Hot chocolate (with peppermint!), Earl Grey tea. Hate coffee that tastes like coffee, but I'm a Starbucks addict when it comes to caramel macchiatos, pumpkin spice lattes, and eggnog lattes.
Colors: Tropical blue and lime green. I love bright happy colors that don't require sunglasses if you want to look directly at them. Love 'em paired with black. This includes bright pink and purple too, orange and yellow only if it's for something non-wearable. Best wearable colors for me have a blue undertone. Not a fan of earth tones, especially olive green and rust.
Hooks and Needles: Love Boye crochet hooks and I probably have enough to last me a lifetime. Love love love my Knit Picks nickel plated interchangeables and can always use more points and cables :-)
Yarn Projects: My go-to are quick projects like amigurumi and fingerless gloves. I've recently discovered a love for shawls and one of these days I'm going to attempt socks. I freaking love cables.
Favorite Season: Fall. Really it's Halloween to Christmas since it covers my fave holidays. Halloween is my fave fun holiday, but it's tied with Christmas because I love the energy and the giving that goes along with it (so not into the religious scene, but I believe in Santa!). My birthday (Nov 12) is a close second (yes birthdays are holidays) and I try to use it as an excuse to travel every year. In third is Thanksgiving for the food and family.
Wish Lists: Amazon, Knit Picks

For the most part I'm an open book. Feel free to ask if there's anything I left out :-)

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Learning Something New

After my frustration with the After Hours shawl, I decided to take a break from knitting for a couple of days. I've finished several more rows in Dragonflies and I think the end is finally in sight. I still have 75 more shells to do (and the dragonfly gusset), but there shouldn't be any problem getting this shipped off to my swap partner by the end of the month. Yippie!

The break from the needles didn't last too long though, and soon enough I was back to working on the Ggester at lunch. This hat is crazy huge, but I don't think it'll be too much of a problem for wearing. It's just a silly hat, so who cares if it's a bit loose. I know I said that I was only going to work on it at lunch, but this morning I just wanted something mindless and soothing to work on so I started and finished the first of the 3 "happy points." Unfortunately I was a bit too mindless while working on it and ended up screwing up the placement of the seam and decreases. The decreases are on the outside instead of the inside of the point which means it's not going to hang how it's supposed to. Also means that if I fix my mistake with the other points then they won't hang naturally from my head. I think I've figured out how to fix it, but I'm really not looking forward to the other 2 points.

The yarn finally came on Thursday for BFF's Seahawks Mitts! I don't remember if I've said this or not, but I decided on Transition Gloves for the pattern and this means I finally have to learn color work. This isn't a traditional Fair Isle pattern, but the same techniques are used for adding color. The ribbing is done only in green on tiny Size 1 needles, then it's time to switch to Size 3 and start adding the blue. So far I think I'm doing ok. My tension was off for the first couple of rows, but I think I've solved that problem by holding the green working yarn in one hand, and the blue in the other. It's really strange getting used to using both hands for adding yarn, but I think I've started to get the hang of it. Finished row 12 last night. Only a bajillion more to go. Oh, and for added fun, I'm doing them 2 at a time on 1 needle. It's how I've done the past sets of gloves and didn't expect any problems. That was before it occurred to me that I have 4 balls of working yarn hanging from my needles. Obviously not the brightest decision I've ever made, but after the first night and a tangled mess, I think I've got a rhythm down to prevent massive tangling. Keep your fingers crossed for me.

I can't believe I forgot to post this with last weekend's pictures, but I've started on Swatch #3 - Seed Stitch. It was fun and relaxing for the first couple of rows (and I don't seem to be having any problems with it), but now I find it to be downright boring. I've been avoiding finishing it all week, but I should really get back to it so I can finish it and move on to something more interesting!

In other news, I've signed up for the Hogwarts Super Kit Swap 12 (HSKS12) and received my spoiler and spoilee information tonight! The term actually starts on Monday (I think) and since this is my first round with HSKS I'm super excited to get started. Unlike my usual swaps I know who my upstream contact is and my downstream knows who I am so it looks like I'll be making some new HP friends. This group really seems to focus on getting to know each other and creating really awesome and special swap boxes for the spoilees. This swap is based on book 7 (timing with the new movie) so our theme is horcruxes and instead of being sorted into houses, we were sorted into families. I'm part of Ron's Muddle-Headed Mates. Sounds about right, dontcha think? Instead of my usual Slytherin silver and green, we get new colors too: Maroon and Orange. This scares me more than a little, but it still has potential. Can't wait to see if and what my spoilee does with it!

Day 12, Triangle 2: 21 shells = 2 hours 20 min
Average: 6.6 minutes per shell (this was at Wednesday night craft group)
Day 13, Triangle 2: 12 shells = 60 min
Average: 5 minutes per shell
Total: 231 shells = 18 hours

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Lace + Heroes = Bad Idea

After having such great luck yesterday with my After Hours shawl, I spent all day today itching to get back to it. It was just so much fun. Knowing that I reallllllly need to get Dragonflies done by the end of the month, and that I don't actually have to finish After Hours until Christmas, I was a good girl and did a row of Dragonflies while watching Heroes before getting back to the knitted lace. The problem is that I got involved in the plot and I didn't want to stop watching it when I wanted to start working on the lace. Yesterday I discovered that it takes one heck of a lot of concentration to follow the chart and knit with fingering weight yarn on slippery size 11 needles. I had to give up on watching tv or trying to chat with anyone and just focus on the pattern. Once I got into the groove I was able to turn music on, but that's it. Tonight I started out with the music and the knitting, but I sooooooo wanted to know what happened on the show and I thought I was doing good with the pattern reading, so I got cocky and watched the next episode. Big mistake. On the row before I was supposed to put in the next lifeline I totally screwed up. Somehow I'm off by like 2 stitches. It's enough of a difference that it needs to be fixed, but I can't figure out where the problem is. I just stared at it for like half an hour. This is what I get for being distracted by the pretty. How can I be expected to focus on the knitting with Peter and Sylar fighting. I should have just put down the needles. But I didn't. And now I'm paying for it. Arg. I should also know better than to knit at night. Now I'm all craky and sad and stressed and tired and sleeping is going to be an issue. Also having a total "I freaking hate knitting" moment. So wish me luck. In a few seconds I'm going to rip out 9ish rows of lace. Yeah, thats more than 3 hours worth of work. I'm going to have to step away from this for a few days before I kill it. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. Maybe I'll put lifelines in every other row now.

This means I don't have a pretty crafty pic to post tonight. The second triangle of Dragonflies looks exactly like the first one, and the current state of After Hours is less than the pic I posted yesterday. Dammit. Seems wrong not to post a picture of something though, so here's a shot of Peter trying to kill Sylar - the scene that started it all. Stupid distracting tv.

Day 11, Triangle 2: 9 shells = 40 min
Average: 4.4 minutes per shell
Total: 198 shells = 14 hours 40 min

Monday, September 6, 2010

Happy Labor Day!

This weekend was a crazy busy one and I should really be thinking about sleep, so this is just going to be a quick post with lots of pictures :-)

On Friday I finished Swatch #2 and got a couple more rows done on the Slytherin Ggester.

Saturday was filled with dyeing 3 skeins of yarn (Buttered Popcorn, Secret Santa, and Clifford), and lots of work on Triangle #2 of Dragonflies.

Sunday I went to the fair and didn't do any craftyness of any sort. I did try deep fried oreos though. Can we say ewwwwwwwwww?

Today was spent recovering from all day at the fair. Made some stitch markers for some upcoming swaps (I love my new design!) and for the After Hours shawl since the TARDIS ones I love so much are just too cumbersome for this lace project. I also got to row 15 on the shawl! Not one problem with it yet. Go me :-D I love that I can finally start to see the design coming together. Btw the red line through the pattern is a lifeline. If I do encounter any problems I can rip back to that row and it'll hold my stitches so I don't have to start the whole thing over again.

Day 10, Triangle 2: 36 shells = 2 hours 35 min
Average: 4.3 minutes per shell
Total: 189 shells = 14 hours

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Pumpkin Pie a la Mode Sold!!!

Can you believe it? I sold my first skein of hand dyed yarn :-D
It's the first of Schmutzerella Yarns Superwash Sock. 462 yards of orange/white/brown squishy awesomeness! It will be going out in the mail tomorrow to ProudNana and I can't wait to see what she makes with it. Rumor has it that there might be a shawl in her future!

The sale came from me talking about the pictures I took when I got home this evening of 3 skeins that are alllllllllmost ready to go up on etsy. I hope to have them up and available in the shop tomorrow. It took too long reskeining these 3 that I almost lost my sunlight and had to quickly run to take pictures. I hope to do more photography tomorrow for the ones I didn't get to today. For now here's the super pretty Electric Mint Chocolate Chip, Blue Goo Goddess, and Foxglove Fantasy.

In other (and not nearly as exciting) news, I've finished the ribbing and my first silver stripe of the Slytherin Ggester. It amazes me how much faster this is going than the Jackson hat, but I have significantly more knitting experience under my belt now and it's a simpler pattern. I'm also pretty sure that this is the first time I've ever changed colors while knitting. How weird is it that I haven't done that before now? Not like it's a big deal, but I'm still fairly excited ;-)

I started working on Swatch #2 (K1P1 ribbing + stockinette), but then got so distracted by the awesomeness of selling yarn that I didn't finish it. Oh well, I'll work more on it tomorrow night. So far I'm thrilled with how evenly the stockinette is working up! It's been a loooooooooooong time since I've done flat stockinette (I almost exclusively knit in the round) and apparently my purling has improved significantly since the last time I attempted it. My ribbing seems pretty good, but the stitches have a tendency to lean a bit. I'm wondering if this will be corrected with blocking or maybe I'm just being overly perfectionist.

Unfortunately I haven't spent any time on Dragonflies this week. I've been so caught up in the exciting new projects that I haven't even thought of it. Not good. That little bugger needs to ship out by the end of September. With the long weekend ahead of me, I think it's time to pick up the hook again.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Swatch #1

Yesterday was one of those days in which I was crazy tired all day for no apparent reason. I hate it when that happens, but it wasn't going to stop me from knitting my first swatch for the Masters program. That was my first mistake. You'd think I would have learned by now that I shouldn't knit when I'm tired and cranky - it never ends well. The swatch was simple enough (K2P2 ribbing with garter stitch) and I didn't really have any issues. The tension was pretty even in the garter (always knew I could do that in my sleep!), and my ribbing was adequate - but not good enough. The second K was entirely too loose and was pulling awkwardly in just about every row. At this point I was super cranky, took pictures, and gave up for the night.

I posted pictures of the ribbing in a couple places on ravelry with a cry for help, and my wonderful friends came to the rescue! Apparently this is an extremely common problem and it can be corrected by making the transition between knit and purl just a bit tighter to take up the extra slack. I discovered that there are several ways to do this, and I was ready to try again. At knitting group tonight I re-knit the swatch, this time giving the yarn an extra tug when switching between knit and purl, and I'm thrilled with the results! My ribbing is significantly more even :-D

Now I'm curious to see what happens when I block them. A few people thought that I didn't necessarily need to re-knit my swatch, that the ribbing would even out with blocking, but I'm glad that I did. I learned something new and I hope that my ribbing is more consistent in the future. Can't wait to work on swatch #2 tomorrow!

In other news, my yarn that I dyed over the weekend is finally dry!!! I didn't have time to reskein it tonight, but I'm really excited about it and I wanted to show it off. I'll add new pictures tomorrow (and hopefully put them up for sale) just so long as the sun cooperates. The lighting on these pics suck, but it's better than nothing.

Red Hat

Pumpkin Pie a la Mode

Electric Mint Chocolate Chip

Lime Italian Soda

Blue Goo Goddess