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January 30, 2011

January Conquored

I know I have non-knitting readers and I'm sorry this has been only knitting for the past few posts. December through February are heavy knitting months because so many birthdays fall in there. I'll simmer down in a few weeks and have non-knitting nonsense to share.

Finished the January socks after midnight on the 29th so I met my first deadline! I did end up shaping these a little. The foot was just too baggy as the pattern was written for me, my yarn, my needles, etc. I reduced the size of the foot but as soon as I hit the ankle I increased the pattern repeats to what the pattern calls for. When I wear a sock I like the foot to hug a little but I don't like the leg to hug too much. My legs get itchy when socks are too tight so I made these legs a little looser and gave them a nice ribbed top to help hold them up.

I think the recipient of these socks will love them and I can't wait to get them off this week. If I get them off Monday or Tuesday, the package will even get there in time for her birthday. That is some kind of miracle. I'm always late with birthdays.

I saw The King's Speech last weekend with Grandma and I loved it. Just like everyone else. But it is a really good movie so I'm not surprised to see so many people enjoying it. If you haven't seen it yet, I highly recommend it. If you have seen it, you will appreciate this footage of the real King George speaking. Your heart just dies for him when you see him hesitate and close his eyes. But if you weren't too close to him and didn't know he stammered I think I would just think he was pausing to be solemn.

January 26, 2011

January Socks Progress

The January Sock is moving along nicely. I've had some challenges with figuring out proportion but I assure you, that is entirely my fault and not the fault of the pattern. I've had to rip out great chunks of the sock five times. Five. That is a depressing number when most of those are due to my inability to learn.

The first rip was about mid-way through the sock foot. I realized these were going to be huge. This is a lace pattern which has a lot of stretch. There is nothing more annoying than a baggy, saggy sock so I couldn't keep going. I ripped it out, removed a pattern repeat on each side and started again. This made the foot the exact right width.

Foot length seems to be a greater challenge for me. This is a toe up pattern. I've knit toe up patterns before and never had a problem so why this one would be defeating me is a mystery. (This is an elegant toe up pattern by the way, if you don't like picking up stitches for the heel, you'll love this one.) For some reason I couldn't place where things were falling on the foot and the pattern directions weren't getting through my thick skull so I kept knitting clown feet. Over and over I knit a foot 11 or so inches long. It looked ridiculous and I should have seen it much sooner than I was. I did this FOUR times. Good grief.

I finally staggered through the heel stage of the sock and am working my way up the leg. I'm worried the leg will be too tight but I think I just need to hold on and have a little faith. I'd like to be a lot further on for these socks. The recipient likes a long leg so I really can't afford any more rips or I'll miss my first deadline. That will just be depressing.

Other than all that drama, I love the socks. This is one of those perfect marriages of the yarn and the pattern. I love, love, love it and it pleases me endlessly while I work on it. Thank goodness or I would have quit by now! As I work on these I keep thinking how much I love them and how cute they will be with jeans.

(It says a lot about the focus this sock is getting that I took the picture with a passed out puppy on his muddy blanket in the background. The puppy is cute but the blanket looks bad. Hey, I live in the very wet Pacific NorthWest and this time of year, most everything has a little mud on it. The washing machine always has a dog-oriented load in it. It is a challenge fitting my own laundry in between loads of blankets, rugs, towels, etc. Seriously, it is ALWAYS going!)

January 07, 2011

Getting a Grip on Gifts

Every year, starting in November (or October), I start a mad panic to knit the Christmas gifts I intend to give. I don't give a lot of knitted gifts but my Mom and Grandma want socks and then I have some relatives in cold climates so I like to make them knitted goods. But I just don't give myself enough time, I rarely knit what I would like to give and I actually end up hurting my arms and hands because I'm knitting too much in a short amount of time. On top of Christmas (because that just isn't enough) there are a lot of birthdays in the first few months of the year that require a knitted item. There are birthdays for Mom and Grandma, who would like another pair of socks but they just don't get them because it is too close to Christmas, and birthdays for more family members in cold climates who deserve wooly love from me.

I've decided to plan out some knitting for the year. Sort of like a sock club but not restricted to socks. My personal program does end up being a pair of socks every month but that is because of the overwhelming sock demand from family and myself (who has not been able to knit a pair of socks for myself for three years). I'll also be fitting in a fair amount of hats since that is item number 2 everyone wants.

Anyone else want to join me? You don't have to knit the same project as me, you can plan out the gifts you would like to have done at the end of the year like I did and then use those as your monthly project. I'll be posting my project details here if you need inspiration or like the ideas. Depending on the interest of this, we may create a public area where we all post project details to inspire each other.

Just make out a list of the gifts you have to give during the year and who you have to give them to. Christmas, birthdays, Mother's Day, etc. and note which ones you would like to be a handknitted item and what that item is. Map out when that gift needs to be completed, so depending on the gift, you might knit it in the month or two before you give it. Take into consideration what you have going on in the month. If you have finals that month or a crazy work schedule, move either the project, or the more complicated project back so the two things are not conflicting to make your life miserable. I've also made sure I'm knitting cotton or light items in the summer instead of wooly items.

Last night I took a big ziploc storage bag for each month and put the project, pattern, and note who it was for in each bag and lined them up in a basket. I even included next January since I won't even be thinking about doing this again until well after the holidays but I still have February birthdays.

The first project will be a pair of socks. Mom's birthday is in early February and all she got from me at Christmas was a skein of yarn and a promise for socks. How lame is that? I'd like to be able to hand her a pair of socks on her birthday so she is the first gift up.

The pattern is an eyelet rib sock which is super easy but still a little entertaining. Plus it features the yarn well. The ball bands for the yarn is long gone (I've had it forever with the intention of making socks for her out of these) but it is a blue self-striping/jacquard style sock yarn that will be great with jeans. I think I picked it up at a clearance sale so it may not even be available anymore. It looks something like the denim jacquard here. This is the pattern I'll be using. I've been sitting on this forever intending to knit it because it is so cute.

I'll track the projects and provide project details on Ravelry. I'm psychobunny there and the first month's project is titled January Socks. If enough of you seem interested I'll create a group for the monthly holiday knitting group or something. It could end up being a great source of inspiration for gifts.

UPDATE: I knew Ravelry wouldn't let me down. There is already a group for this and they look like they rock. Plus they check in every month so they hold you accountable. Just exactly what I need. Hooray!