Thursday, March 25, 2010

And She's Off!

Well, it is official - I'm off to the races with TUSKAUFOFE. The Short-row Toe and Heel Basic Sock is finished and Gusset Heel Basic Sock is on the needles.

I have to admit that I am not a huge fan of the short-row heel. I have a high instep, so these socks tend to slip down under my heel. I had decided early on to make these socks into anklets, since the Patons Stretch Socks yarn is cotton blend and suitable for summer socks. This choice means that I may be pulling these socks up in back all the time. I am also wondering how they will stand up to multiple washings.

I am currently working on two other projects. First is the 2 for 1 Hat pattern by Ravelry friend SwordofaKnitter (Ravelry link). I am test knitting it for him. It is taking me much longer than usual because it is double knit and I can only work on it at home and in a quiet place because it takes so much concentration to make sure I keep the pattern straight. I am currently working on the decreases at the crown of the hat and should be able to finish it soon. It will be a very warm hat, having two layers and should be fabulous for skiing next winter. I have no photos yet, so you'll have to stay tuned for an update.

The UFO I'm working on is Arwen for Peeps. I am knitting the cable bands for the front of the hoodie. Then I only have the cable bands for the cuffs and this baby is finished. I don't have a current picture of it either.

I am way behind on photographing WIP's. With the beautiful, spring-like weather around here, we've been spending extra time outside. I have also been spending more time at our local pool, learning to swim. I have a secret yen to do a sprint triathlon and was most afraid of the swimming portion. So I started taking private lessons to learn how to swim and am now trying to build up my stamina. I can now do 500 yards of breaststroke without completely dying. Freestyle is still too hard for me to maintain for long distances but I'm pleased with the progress I've made so far.

Well, I'm off to finish school with the kids so we can take a quick shopping trip to buy a suit and new shoes for Hockeyman. He has a formal dance he will be attending next month. I assume he will also need a suit for interviews at colleges and other events in his upcoming senior year. It is hard to believe my baby boy will be 18 this year and graduating next spring.

Where has the time gone?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Fear of Commitment?


After announcing to all of knitting blogdom the advent of my upcoming Toe Up Sock Knitting Adventure, little niggling thoughts began tickling the back of my brain. Doubts and fear began to creep into my subconscious, giving me crazy nightmares and random flashes of goose-pimply, gut-tickling shivers throughout the day.

First thought to rear it's ugly, guilt-inducing head was the list of unfinished projects cluttering up my normally spacious, but now dangerously over-crowded, craft studio. It whispered, "Wouldn't it be more prudent to knock off a few of those before attempting an epic journey through toe-up sock knitting that may well take a couple years. After all, Hockeyman's Blanket is so close to done; and that Center Medallion sweater you know you couldn't stand to wear because it is too itchy and plan to recycle into a tote-bag or pillow . . ."

Next, the overwhelming stash of yet untouched yarn began a siren song of lonely longing, calling me, calling me to, "Go ahead and cast on that Fair Isle cardigan, the lime green summer cardigan, the purple cotton hoodie . . . And what about the Fair Isle hat and mittens you purchased yarn for before going on Fiber Fast 2010 - it is so lovely and quick to knit. It's okay, go ahead and submit to startitis. It's what you do best."

Finally, stark and raving fear crept up on me. What if I run out of sock-knitting steam half way through the book; what if all my bloggy friends find out what a flaky, easily-distracted ditzy dame I really am . . . Oi, what have I gotten myself into?

After some serious soul searching and stern, self-directed lectures and very inspirational internal speeches, I decided to follow through on my original plan to knit my way through Socks from the Toe Up, with some minor alterations to the plan.

First of all, I will knit my way straight through the book, one pattern at a time, starting with the Plain Vanilla patterns before moving onto the more exciting lace sock patterns.

However, after each pair of completed socks, I will finish (or frog) one unfinished project. My goal is to finish one pair of socks and to finish one UFO per month. However, if the UFO in question takes longer than the remainder of the month, I will cast on the new sock and continue to work on two projects until one or both are finished. I will include other crafts in the UFO completion marathon, like the rug hooking project I'm half done with and some unfinished quilts in my sewing basket.

Once the UFO's are eliminated from my over-flowing craft room, then I will allow myself to cast on a new project after each pair of socks.

Another goal is to burn through some of my stash (hence, Fiber Fast 2010), so I will use up all my accumulated stash of sock yarn before purchasing any new. However, once I have run out of sock yarn, I will allow myself to purchase sock yarn, even if Fiber Fast 2010 has not concluded.

Henceforth, I will be referring to 2010 as the year of Toe Up Sock Knitting And Unfinished Object Finishing Extravaganza, or TUSKAUFOFE for short. I am taking the plunge and putting this commitment out into the blogging world with the hope that it will be motivation enough to urge me forward to meet the goal of unlimited sock exploration, endless UFO elimination and ending world hunger . . . okay, maybe I'm getting carried away.

In the meantime, I did have a couple of prior commitments to live up to before diving into TUSKAUFOFE full time. Therefore, I submit for your approval HABS 2010. Granted, they are a month and a half too late for Hubby's birthday but I figured I'd better finish them off before getting too wrapped up in TUSKAUFOFE. He's very patient but with the Hockey Expo and High School Hockey State Tournament this weekend, he really needed a new pair of warm wool socks to keep his toesies all toasty.

I also promised a Ravelry friend that I'd test knit a new pattern for her (Ravelry link). I am working on that at the moment and plan to finish tonight or early tomorrow.

Oh, and on a sock knitting note, I have been attempting the short-row toe used by the first sock pattern in Wendy's book and not having a great deal of success. So far, I've knit and ripped 4 separate toes. I understand the directions but when I start picking up the wraps with the stitches and knitting them together, I keep dropping stitches and getting things all tangled up. Grrrrr!

Perhaps my mistake was trying to cast on and knit short-row toes late at night, by the light of a small lamp, so I wouldn't disturb my sleeping hubby during my commitment-phobic, anxiety-induced insomnia last night. I'm hoping attempting this new-to-me toe pattern will go better in full daylight, and after a full and restful night of sleep. IF I can actually go to sleep tonight without dreaming of half-finished socks chasing me through crowded warehouses of whining UFO's and lovely, lonely yarn singing alluring songs in the background.

After all, I am a flaky, easily-distracted ditzy dame who gets all goose-pimply from time to time. Not a pretty picture but, hey, you all are likely to figure it out sooner or later.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Searching for Inspiration

I have to admit that knitting for the Ravelympics was exhilarating. However, after the torches were extinguished, I have to confess that I was left feeling a little flat. With the completion of Cables & Lace, I had reached my goal of 12 sweaters in 12 months. I earned the medals I was competing for and then . . . pfffft!

I've lost my knitting mojo. Everything I picked up looked boring. "Been there, done that," became the mantra as I thumbed through books and magazines, looking for something - anything - that might get my blood pumping once again.

I was resolved that I'd have to explore some new craft - or resurrect an old craft to find inspiration. Not a horrible thing but knitting has become such an integral part of my identity that I was afraid friends and relatives wouldn't recognize me without my ubiquitous knitting bag and needles in hand.

Then, today, as I was teaching the sock knitting class at our local homeschool cooperative academy, lightening struck!

In front of me was Wendy Johnson's Socks from the Toe Up. As I thumbed through it and talked with my class about the different toe and heel configurations Wendy demonstrates in the book, I realized that I had barely scratched the surface of toe-up sock construction. Here in front of me was a recipe book for endless explorations into sock construction and design. I began to feel like Julie in Julie & Julia (which I just read recently) when confronted with Julia Child's monumental tome of French cooking.

Why not spend the next 12 months knitting my way through Wendy's awesome book? What is more, when her second book comes out, why not progress through that one as well?

That is not to say I won't be working on other projects along the way. After all, I do have a few other UFO's floating around here that could stand some attention. And Shepherd's Harvest is coming up and attending that always gets my spinning mojo back in gear.

But what a fun goal to have - knit my way through a book. A pair of socks a month would leave plenty of time for other projects, since I could knit a pair in a week if I really concentrate on it.

And it will be much less fattening than cooking my way through a Julia Child cookbook.

A Win-Win situation, don't ya think?

Monday, March 01, 2010

Talk about cutting it close!

Official finish time!

Knitting Completed
Still need to weave in tails, wash and block, and purchase/apply buttons. But every stitch of knitting was completed during the allotted time frame. Barely!

As for the Gold Medal Men's Hockey Game, all I can say is Sidney Crosby attended Shattuck-St. Mary Boarding School in Minnesota for a year during high school. Perhaps the U.S. (and Minnesota) had a little stake in that Gold Medal after all. Not that I'm biased about Minnesota hockey players but this is the "State of Hockey" after all!

Nuff said!

Good Night. I am E-X-H-A-U-S-T-E-D!