Friday, December 31, 2010

Captain America is Awesome!

I was hoping to post a little something today to end out the year with a good note. Not that it won't be a good note anyway, we are going to 2 parties tonight. I kinda wish we were staying home cause the weather is "frightful" as they say. But, I've baked a beautiful chocolate cake for party 1 and made some asian coleslaw for party 2.

Just how beautiful is the cake?

Okay, not that great to look at but it will be super yummy. That's a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting. Perfect for the "frosting queen" hostess of party 1.

Oh, some of you came here for fiber content? Hmm, look at this:

It's Fiber Optic Yarns "Sweet Georgia Brown" from a stash sale on Ravelry. 4 ounces of the most gorgeous, richly colored Superwash Merino I have seen in a long time. It's much richer and darker in person but of course more difficult to photograph as a result. This is half of it, split lengthwise and drafted, spun into singles. The second half is started and if I ever finish I'm planning to navajo ply it.

Anyway, I'm posting to end the year with a bang. Happy New Year to you and yours!

P.S. The post title is what my husband told me I should post about when I asked him today. I should really know better by now. He is quite the comic book nerd.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

It's a sickness really

Is the burning question on your mind? Did I finish my Christmas knitting?

Well, let's do the math.
One woven scarf, Two Ribbed Knit hats, A total of 3 double-knit hats because one had to be knit twice. Okay, this 12 Days of Christmas thing isn't gonna work.

Ahem, starting over.
1 woven scarf
2 ribbed knit hats
1 pair felted clogs
2 double-knit hats, even though one had to be knit twice
1 knit washcloth to go with body wash/lotion
1 pair handspun socks
1 pair men's worsted socks
2 pairs baby booties
1 handspun, hand-dyed knit scarf
9 crocheted scarves
1 knitted cowl

That's a grand total of: 22 handmade gifts.

Whew, here they are. (Please note: Not all of them are finished in this picture but I had to start wrapping so I have a few things not done.)

Did I finish though? Well, .........
Yes. Monday night I cast off the last thing, before doing our gift exchange with those people. It's been a wild ride.

So, now you are probably wondering what I'm up to next right?

Lothlorien is back in view. Coming along nicely too. It really is a beautiful pattern.

One more thing;

Here is a hat started for a January Birthday. That's right, another gift. It's a sickness. Don't look at me like that. I'll be over here knitting.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Rule 5 a.k.a. the Wrapup

So, today is the final day of our 5-part series. Before we get started let me ask you a question.

What does this look like to you?

Wait, let me give you a hint. It's supposed to go like this:

Yup, it's supposed to be a hat. It should look more like this:

(It says Redbirds on the side for a family friend who plays for the Redbirds.)

Anyone notice the problem?

That brings me to our final rule.

Kalkette's Rules for Christmas Knitting
a 5-part series.

Find Rule 1 here.

Find Rule 2 here.

Find Rule 3 here.

Find Rule 4 here.

Rule 5: Don't get cocky. Just because you feel like you are on schedule, have been working steadily, probably all year, on your gifts and just because you are doing well, don't get overconfident.

I'll tell you what happened here. I knit this hat on the weekend of Dec. 16. I was feeling good. I was getting my knitting done at a pretty good pace. There was one problem. It came out sort of...well, big. I started to think about it and the more I thought about it, the more it bothered me. I decided to wash it and give it a little shock. I filled a tub with cold, cold water and one side of the sink with hot, hot water. I swished it gently into the cold and then dashed it into the hot. Back and forth, several time, I even wrung on it a little to give it just a slight felting. Then I took out my coffee can with the hand towel wrapped around it. (Standard hat blocking object) I pulled the hat over it and walked away. Thinking to myself, "There, one more thing I can cross off the list. I'll just let it dry and it will be ready for wrapping. Still doing well, but I'd better go knit now."

Yeah, I came back and it was hanging off the bottom of the coffee can. Over the edge! That's waaaaaaaay too big for a hat. I kept myself from hyperventilating only by the skin of my teeth. I thought I could still fix it.

I decided a "light" felting in the washer was in order. I had accidentally done it before. just a little bit of felting and it would come out just fine. I certainly couldn't leave it the way it was! I filled the washer and dunked it in. I walked away. I came back to a neat felted bowl. It would have (maybe) been okay but the edges, instead of staying straight, flared out like a bowl. Yup, ruined. I had to completely reknit the thing. 5 days before Christmas.

The moral of the story? Don't get cocky, even a little thought that you are totally going to be fine, it's no problem, I can do it. Yeah, it can come back and bite you hard on the hindquarters. Words to live by.

Thanks to you all for tuning in for these rules. It sure was fun for me to post. Merry Christmas from the Kalkette Family to yours. If you don't celebrate Christmas, then may you have a happy holiday of your choosing! See you next week with a tally of how the gifts went over and if I finally finished (on time.)

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Rule 4

I'm posting super early today (for me, shut up) because instead of going to critter-sit today, I'm heading down to my parents to do some cookie decorating with my niece, nephew and some children of a family friend. It's gonna be a good but long day. The critter mom graciously offered to take the critters to work with her so I could go. I'm a little worried for her sanity. I've already checked in and she isn't ready to smack me for abandoning her today so I'm leaving soon with a clear conscience. Sort of.

Well, let's get right to the point.

Kalkette's Rules for Christmas Knitting
a 5-part series.

Find Rule 1 here.

Find Rule 2 here.

Find Rule 3 here.

Rule 4: Don't lose focus. This rule might seem pretty obvious. But, when you start to feel like an idiot knitting Christmas gifts in March or April and think, I'll just cast this on for myself, I don't need to work on it. I can stop any time I want, I'm doing Christmas knitting to avoid the crazy twitchy look I had last year, I don't need to have a new shawl for the spring. Then you blink and the well-planned out Christmas knitting is thrown by the wayside and you are in November and there's still a multitude of projects left to be knit and you are sobbing into a cup of coffee at midnight. Wait, that might have been a flashback, hold on.

Ahem. Yes, focus. Stay focused. If you come up with a plan that involves finishing at least one project for a gift every single month of the year, then do it. Don't let yourself get crazy at the end. Be crazy all the way through. Wait, that doesn't sound right.

Don't be crazy at all. Plan and work towards a goal. Like, you know, "normal" people. You don't find them crying into egg nog on Christmas eve, desperately trying to figure out how in the 3 hours they have left before gift-opening, they can finish 12 hours worth of knitting.

In other news, I see the light at the end of the tunnel on my Christmas knitting. All the gifts for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are done. Nothing is wrapped of course and I'm not finished with everything but since there's less of a deadline for the others, I'm feeling like it's possible.
Nothing is wrapped of course, at all and I got pretty much no holiday baking done this year but you know, sacrifices.

See you all tomorrow for part 5.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Rule 3

Today is another day of the "same old, same old." Filled in with the fact that I didn't get as much knitting done as intended yesterday because of all the baking. Oops. Oh well, at least we had a great breakfast and snack right? Today I'm knitting away frantically while trying not to let Frontierville (a silly little Facebook game) suck up all my time.

Well, since it's becoming much-anticipated. I present to you day 3 of;

Kalkette's Rules for Christmas Knitting a 5-part series.

Find Rule 1 here.

Find Rule 2 here.

Rule 3: Know your Audience. That means plan the gift based on the recipient. For example; A couple of years ago, I knit a nifty pair of arm warmers for a family member. Remember what happened? I sure do.

It still hurts to look at it. I had to reknit one of them. And, since then, they have both been destroyed again. By the giftee's cat. They get no more wool. Yes, they get gifts and even knitted gifts but those people that live in that house do not get wool anymore. I'm not bandying about with good wool yarn just to have it chewed to ribbons.

What else? Oh yeah, if you have a 4 year old niece who refuses to wear socks at all, socks may not be the best plan for her. Even soft, squishy ones. She still won't wear them. Oh sure, she might get all squeaky and excited when she opens them, she may even put them on but as when she says they are "scratchy" (please note, they were not at all scratchy. I used the super soft squishy stuff for this little sweetie) and rips them off of her feet, do not expect to EVER see them again.

All I'm saying is, Think about who it is you are knitting for. Plan accordingly.

Hopefully, despite a cookie-decorating party planned for tomorrow, I can bring you Rule 4.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Rule 2 from a Rockstar!

So, I'm a total rockstar today! I'm "critter sitting" which is what we call babysitting for a friend. She has two small children. Critter #1 is 3. Critter #2 is 18 months. I've been here since ten to 7 this morning. (That means I was up about 5, let's not discuss it.)
We made homemade pancakes for breakfast. These pancake-ified. (Yes, I think that is a word. I said so.)
Now, Critter #2 is sleeping, Critter #1 is watching Shrek and I have 4 loaves of home made banana bread cooling on the stove and 2 more baking in the oven. Plus, all the dishes are done. I fully expect something horrible and awful to go wrong any moment. Days never go this well for me.

Since yesterday's Rule was pretty popular and I still can't show you anything very interesting. At least nothing that isn't a secret, I bring you...Rule 2.

Kalkette's Rules for Christmas Knitting a 5-part series.

Find Rule 1 here.

Rule 2: Start Early. What exactly is early? Well, to me early really is December 26. Start as soon as you possibly can stand it. I know, it seems ridiculous and you feel so totally foolish knitting socks on the 4th of July that will be a Christmas gift but it truly is the only thing that will save your sanity. Begin as soon as possible.
For me that usually means; I get a well-meaning start in about March (I get waylaid by selfish startitis that hits me really hard after all that gift-giving. If you have friends and family who give you yarn or gift certificates, I would imagine the startitis will hit you even harder. Good luck) anyway, March and then set everything aside for months and months only to realize in late October or *gasp* November, that I'm totally screwed. Do not do this to yourself. Start early, start often.

Tomorrow, Rule 3. (I bet you can hardly wait.)

Monday, December 20, 2010

Rule 1

There's been lots of knitting around the old homestead lately but it has pretty much been all test-knit and Christmas knitting. I just haven't had time for anything else. Most of that is pretty boring (read: similar to what it looked like yesterday) or secret to keep prying eyes from seeing what will be in their box on Christmas.

Since I don't have anything whatsoever interesting to show you then, I lovingly present to you:

Kalkette's Rules for Christmas Knitting a 5-part series.

Today we will cover Rule #1.

Rule 1: Plan Ahead. This can mean lots of things to lots of people but to me the biggest thing is that I can't just run out and buy a ton of yarn for gifts in one month (not to even mention the crazy-pants idea of knitting it all) so I space it out. I start thinking gifts early, like January if I'm smart, and I start buying or stash-diving to find the right yarn immediately.

Then, realistically, I can space out the cost as well as space out the projects. Hopefully meaning I'm not weeping openly on Christmas Eve. Tomorrow, rule 2.