Friday, December 27, 2013

In the Midst of the Holiday Madness

It's been a lovely holiday so far. We still have one family gathering to go and a lovely meal with friends. Sadly we also have a funeral to attend this weekend but I'm going to focus on the nice things instead.
I finished one of the ruffle scarves and I've gotten back to working on the second one.

The niece who this one is for will definitely love it, the other is a teenager so it's anyone's guess. I had a lovely family party though, some highlights included the nieces and nephews with the cookies I made them.

Here is what they looked like before the little ones got their hands on them.

The best part was when the sweet-hearted little one on the left said he didn't want to eat it, he wanted his picture with it. We had to prove we had pictures so he could eat it now.

Papa helped the little one eat.

My dear Handsome husband read stories and ran up and down the hall with all of them.

I knit while my niece crocheted.

The other niece had a fancy glass for her juice (with a little help from Grandma).

I gave myself a break and started some new socks. These are a simple cabled sock, top down and knit out of some lovely bright nom yarn called Darling Clementine. I really have no idea what I will wear these with but they will be lovely and soft.
I also started some new Vesper socks.

It's Smoke on the Water and a basic toe-up sock.

Then we had a lovely light snowfall yesterday and headed for home. It's off again tonight we will stay with friends then attend the funeral tomorrow but we will be done with all these holiday celebrations in less than a week, we can make it! As lovely as they all are, they are exhausting too.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

That Thing We Knitters Do

You know that thing we knitters do at Christmas (or whatever holiday you choose to celebrate)? The one where you want to wrap your loved ones in wool so they will survive the winter, understand why you knit so much, know how much you love them. So you plan and buy yarn and knit and knit and knit and by the end you're crying hot tears into the wool at 2 am because there's just no way you can finish in time? All this while still trying to do all the other things the holiday calls for like bake and decorate and wrap things?
This year, I don't. Victory is mine!

One completed pair of sport-weight socks, Knit Picks Stroll Sport in Everglade Heather which is not at all heathered to me.

One Double-knit hat so that the outside looks like this and the inside looks like this;

And two layers of lovely wool will be between the recipient's ears and the cold, cold Minnesota winter. Knit Picks Wool of the Andes one ball Coal and one ball Celestial.
I even finished the socks (which were the last thing on the needles) early enough yesterday to knit this as well;

One basic ribbed black hat for someone I had originally forgotten to add to my list and I could not think of a good gift to buy for. (I put a piece of cardboard cut to shape in it to wrap it up since ribbed hats look weird until they're on a head.) Knit Picks Wool of the Andes in Coal again.
I still have a couple of small things (ruffly, evil things) to finish before next week's other Christmas celebration but today I'm doing a small bit of last-minute baking, finishing the wrapping (which I am now done with) and doing a wee little bit of cookie-decorating. We'll attend church and then have a small Christmas with just the husband and I before we travel to be with family.
Merry Christmas to you and yours from the Chez Kalkette!

Edited to Add: After the holiday I will be putting extensive project notes on my Ravelry project page to help me plan better for next year (I hope). But I won't have time today. 

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Don't Let Me Add Anything Else

The Christmas knitting is coming along and I'm still holding out hope. As of these photos (which were actually taken yesterday afternoon but I got busy with other things and forgot to blog them) I had one and a half socks to knit.

And the decreases on a double-knit hat.

I actually managed to finish the first sock last night and I'm currently working on the hat so I am considering adding another hat to the queue. (I know, just beat me over the head with candy canes until I stop.)

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

This Gift Thing Still Remains Possible

I'm making slow but steady progress on lots of things around here. First, the stepdad socks got finished.

I can assure you they look much nicer than they appear in this photo. They will be well-loved too. I'm glad they are done, it gave me a little more time to focus on the Cool Beans socks.

Tah dah! I'm so happy with these and they fit so well that it's a good thing I genuinely love my mom or they would be staying to warm my own feet.
For those who like to see the inside;

The floats aren't too shabby. They also got blocked today. Sometimes with gift socks I don't block (the ones for my step dad won't be blocked) but I really want these to be as amazing as they are when the package is opened.
It's a good thing both of those are done because I still have.

A pair of sportweight socks, seen here while I made Caramels yesterday.
I also have a hat but it still looks like this:

To be honest, it hasn't even been designed yet. This one will be pushing it. I've got to try though. We're at a week to go. That's not all that crazy for sportweight socks and a hat right?
(Don't tell me if it is.)

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Don't Get Cocky

Do you remember a few years ago when I posted the list of rules for your Christmas knitting? Anyone? Well one of them was; Don't get cocky (Number 5, I looked it up.) You would think after years of my trying to shower my loved ones with woolies I would have learned this lesson. I worked so very hard to get my Cool Beans socks caught up this week and I finally did. I was cruising along (after a minor incident where I had to rip back the heel that was not centered on the bottom side of the foot) and I was excited that they were just a few days from being done.
Last night the handsome husband and I went to the local Orchestra concert. Not just as audience members, although it would have been worth it just for that, but because our local community choir was going to sing the Hallelujah Chorus at the end. It was a beautiful concert, the local Orchestra was fabulous and we had tons of fun singing the Hallelujah Chorus. I can't say if we were great. I think we didn't suck and that's about all I can say for sure, without getting cocky. When we got home we decided it was high time to break into the Holiday movies and started watching something together. When I couldn't take working on this nightmare any longer.

Have I not mentioned this? That could be because I'm trying to avoid it at all costs. I bought a couple skeins of this ruffle yarn awhile back with the idea to make scarves for a couple of the nieces for Christmas. I have 4 nieces and only 2 are getting scarves. Hopefully they are getting scarves, if I can bring myself to finish them.
Rather than cutting the entire skein to bits in a fit of rage (Why does it keep twisting up so badly? How exactly am I supposed to grab one side if it twists like that? How do people "love" this "yarn" and get excited to make these things? Yes, I have heard some people say that.)
Anyway, I decided to work on the Bean socks for awhile, get ahead a bit. Wouldn't it be lovely and a weight off my mind if I finished them early? I knit an entire bean. Then looked at it.

It looks lovely doesn't it? That second bean on the leg? Hahaha, these will be done in plenty of time. I could maybe even add another project to my list to get done before Christmas, I could do anything. Queen of the Knitting!
Oh, wait. Weren't there supposed to be increases? Surely they start after this lovely bean I spent over an hour knitting. I dig the first sock out of the bag and examine it.

Nope. They start at the beginning of the second bean on the leg. That means the entire bean I just knit needs to be ripped. It was at that point that I stuffed them into their bag and spent the rest of the evening spinning, ignoring the Christmas Knitting Schedule (of Doom) altogether.
I seriously considered just ignoring the fact that I was knitting them at all but that would be immature. I intend to rip back this afternoon.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Returned to the Regular Schedule

This week has been a little odd. I was so far behind at the beginning, I was starting to think that sending people notes saying we wouldn't make it for Family Holiday celebrations was a good idea. I have successfully drunk enough coffee and ignored enough housework that I can safely say I am on schedule.
The lovely sample socks were finished and mailed off on their adventure. Then I turned to the other biggie on my list.
Last year I started knitting the Cool Beans socks for my mom. They were not done in time for Christmas. When I started thinking of knitting anything colorwork this year, they were glaring at me. I knit no other colorwork. I decided it was high time to get them out and finished so I started back in November. That was good because I was still on the first sock. Last week I sat down and scheduled my Christmas knitting and took a good look at them. I set an amount to knit each day to space them out so it wasn't so overwhelming.

Today I am right where I should be. I'm on schedule because the last couple of days I spent little time doing anything else. Why do I feel that?

It's the second sock. I have only to knit the six bean repeats up the leg and the ribbing and the second one is done. I have scheduled myself to knit one bean repeat per day. A completely reasonable goal.
Now maybe I can get to the wrapping of other gifts or possibly baking or something like that. Although I won't be doing the laundry. I think the washer is broken. Let's not talk about it, the thought makes me sort of woozy.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Sample Adventures

I sat down last week and tried to make a reasonable schedule for the Christmas knitting. It seemed totally do-able and while the husband was at work, I managed to stay on schedule just fine. Then the weekend happened. He was off on Saturday and Sunday (his office is always closed on Sundays but that's not my point) and managed to think he should be fed 3 times a day! All that cooking and subsequent cleaning up after the cooking seriously cut into the knitting time and I fell behind.

After taking yesterday (the whole day) and this morning to really push it and try to get caught up again, I am feeling like I could possibly be able to get caught up and keep moving it along. What made me feel like it was still possible to get caught up?
I finished the sample socks!

I really think they turned out so lovely and I even braved the ridiculous cold to take lovely photos of them.
Although they are lovely and squishy and nice I'm very happy to have finished them. Let's discuss the reasons why I'm so happy to have them finished.
1. Pressure, the yarn arrived a bit late (the fault of the Post office and winter storms, not the sender in any way) and that meant the time I thought I'd have to knit it was significantly shorter and I wanted to make sure it was done in plenty of time.
2. I cable without a cable needle. Especially with these small one over one cables it just seems silly and super slow to use a cable needle. That does not mean I cable without a cable needle well and I often get very frustrated with the stitches not wanting to cable at all.
3. I knit the first leg as directed in the pattern then the heel and almost entire foot. Then I tried on the sock and realized that the leg was not even close to the 6 inches the pattern called for. It was barely 5 inches. That meant I had to rip back, add length to the leg then reknit the heel and foot. That means I knit the second half of the first sock twice which felt sort of like knitting the first sock twice. That means that I was thoroughly done with the pattern by the time I was done with the first sock, let alone the second sock!

4. The aforementioned fortitude it took to knit the second sock and get it done means the other knitting had been put on the back burner and there's a largish deadline for that coming up in about 15 days.
They are done and absolutely beautiful though! All extra details about changes I made to the pattern and other notes can be found on my project page here

Whew, now they are done and I can get them mailed then back to that knitting with the largish deadline.
Have a grand adventure lovely socks and I'll see you soon!

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Sampling the Wayfarer

I've been making some decent progress on the projects I currently have on the needles. I finished the sparkly black handwarmers for the choir-mate and they are living with her now. You can't see the sparkles a whole lot but I promise you they are very sparkly. If you'd like more information on them, you can see the project page here. I basically put the whole (very simple) pattern in the project notes.

Please ignore the large amount of recycling behind me. The husband keeps promising to take it out.
I also finished the socks I was knitting for a church buddy and they are living with her already. Remember them from last week?

Well, they're finished and gone now. I forgot to take a finished picture of them though.
I'm working slowly on Christmas projects and I'm doing a sample knit. An online friend works for Made in America yarns and put out a call awhile back for sample/test knitters. I agreed to do a sample knit and I'm working away on it. She sent me a couple skeins (two because we aren't sure if one will be enough) of their fingering weight yarn; Wayfarer. It's a beautiful yarn and knitting up into the Brigit pattern beautifully. The color we decided on is called Meadow and it's a lovely bright sage green.

You can see how lovely it looks in the cables (on our fresh, new snow).
Made in America Yarns grows and processes their yarn here in America and they make lovely stuff. This Wayfarer is 100% wool fingering-weight yarn, the skein is 3.5 ounces and 382 yards. The yarn almost looks like a tight cotton-like twist at first but it has a lovely bounce and it's knitting up quickly and beautifully.

I can't wait for these lovely socks to be done because I think they're going to be wonderful! Of course they have to make a trip back to the mill for a photo shoot but then they get to come live with me again. Very exciting!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Overconfidence is a Killer

This time of year those of us who craft for the holidays and have started early may start to get overconfident. I know I suffer from that every single year without fail. Just because I have a couple of things done and tucked away and have made good progress on almost all the other items on my list, does not mean that I should go ahead and throw additional projects in there.
Case in point: The socks I have started for a friend's birthday. To be fair, I didn't know her birthday was coming up and when I found out I decided to knit something for her but really? What was I thinking? The other night I was looking over my holiday crafting list and thinking about what projects I had left. I realized just how much I had left. Maybe some of it can get done quickly and easily but a great deal of it cannot. Therefore, I should also not have added the handwarmers I somehow got talked into knitting for a choir-mate. I'm also knitting a sample for a company but I don't have permission to talk about it and haven't received the yarn yet anyway so I will not be sharing that right now. What exactly was I thinking?
So, please enjoy this photo of socks that are partially finished (pictured with my new Jessalu Grinch Project bag, I highly recommend you check it out! They are her limited edition holiday print this year!)

I'll just be over there in the corner planning how little sleep I can survive on for the next month. Pay no attention to the soft sobbing. (Maybe it's not quite that bad, yet.)
P.S. Although the pattern looks a lot like No Purl Monkey it's actually Dragonfly socks and the yarn is Gritty Knits nom in last month's Nom of the month color: Aloha.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Faux Yarn

For the second Tuesday in a row I have actual spinning content. Don't hold your breath that it will continue.
Sunday afternoon I napped a whole bunch so when the handsome husband went to bed, I wasn't tired and I stayed up spinning. I finished the second bobbin of the Sparktickes Dyes Faux Cashmere. That was perfect because it had the opportunity to rest overnight and be plied the next day. I'm terrible at waiting to ply. I want yarn right away when I'm that close.

The first bobbin is on the right and the second bobbin is on the left. Doesn't it look like there's a whole lot more on the second bobbin? Really I had to break the yarn once and wind a small center-pull ball, plying from the outside and inside before joining back to the bobbins again to keep the colors gradiating at the same time. The bobbin that had more of the medium blue? The first bobbin. Then when the one bobbin ran out, again the first bobbin had more, I had to wind a second center-pull ball and ply from both the inside and outside to finish off that first bobbin.
I'm really happy with how the finished yarn turned out though.
 Here it is wound onto the Niddy Noddy. (I apologize for this picture. It was really gray and I had a hard time getting a decent photo. I tried to fix it so the yarn looked right but it made the rest look ridiculous.) It came out to be a very well-balanced skein and now that I know the yardage (430 yards) I'm thinking that I may do some kind of simple shawlette rather than a cowl because it's really too much yardage for a cowl. As I've said, I'm not certain it would hold blocking so I think maybe something very simple like garter stitch might be a good idea. I haven't decided yet. It maintained it's softness in the yarn and has a sort of smooth slickness that I think will make it a fun knit. I'm not sure that it will have a whole lot of give in the knitting either. It may knit more like a cotton.
Unfortunately it's going to have to wait for awhile to be knit because I'm smack dab in the middle of Christmas Knitting right now. The other day I stepped into our local Wal-mart and there was a big sign saying: 38 Days until Christmas. It was like a panic attack smacking you in the face! Since I have several bigger projects this year, I'm getting started early though so I can hopefully stave off the last-minute crazies.
In the meantime, I'll be over here with my 87 cast on projects knitting frantically. (It's really not that bad.)

Friday, November 15, 2013

The Week that Would Not End is Finally Over

Last night I finally turned the heel on the socks I've been knitting for my stepfather for Christmas and realized they were a full inch too long. Yup, that about sums up my week. Thankfully it's now the weekend and I can have some time with the handsome husband and tomorrow some adorable critters.
Tonight is the Knitter Movie night so I'm hoping to head to that, spend some time with my knitters and watch a campy movie (Edward Scissorhands) and dig out another gift that is long due to be worked on.
Yup, the Cool Beans socks are finally coming back on the radar. Don't worry, I'm also going to bring the socks that need to be ripped back to fix them. I'm not sure I can knit two-color socks while watching Edward Scissorhands.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Spinning Faux

It's been awhile since I did a Tuesday for spinning and that's partly because I haven't been doing a whole lot of spinning lately. I'm working on a very unusual spin. I purchased a braid of some faux cashmere awhile back because I had heard about it faux cashmere and had the opportunity to feel it in person at Shepherd's Harvest Festival, it was so soft and I had heard it was unusual to spin so I was excited to try it. I found an online friend who was selling some in her shop and picked up this braid of Jesse Pinkman, Breaking Bad Series from Sparktickes Dyes. It's a light braid, about 3 ounces and dyed in a gradient.
The end is a bright pink, then a sky blue into a deeper royal blue. It's very vibrant and the faux cashmere seems to take the dye really well. I undid the whole braid and split it into two the long way and I'm spinning it onto two bobbins to be two-plied.

This is the second half. As you can see, I've moved from the pink onto the light blue. It is definitely an unusual fiber to spin, very slippery so you need to move slowly and add lots of twist. What stalled me with this for a good amount of time is that I was unsure what I would ever do with it once it was spun. It's a fiber made of nylon so it's not a traditional wool fiber. Does it hold its shape well enough to be lace? It's soft but will it fuzz up? More information was needed. I think it might become a cowl, maybe a Zuzu's Petals (which was recommended to me) but I still haven't decided for sure.
I think it will come out to be a light sport weight when it's finished. That depends on whether it puffs up when washed after spinning though.
That's not all that I've been spinning though, I actually scored a wonderful spindle destash awhile back as well. I got an Enid Ashcroft Mini Turkish spindle made of Cocobolo wood.

Pictured with my favorite coffee cup for scale, you can see how small it actually is. I really love how small and portable it is though and I'm currently spinning Into the Whirled Rambouillet in Captain Tightpants which I managed to score from a destash a long while ago. I love how it's coming out and I love that spindle-spinning it means I get to spend even more time with it. You really can't tell all the colors that are in the beautiful fiber from that picture though.

This gives you a little bit more of an idea, although it's not a great color picture. It has reddish pink, yellow, brown and blue. They blend together in such a beautiful way too. It really is a lovely fiber to spin.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Duluth Recap

I've been so terrible about blogging lately. That's partly because I've been spending more time doing actual knitting and partly because real life stuff seems to get in the way. I finished my lovely Monday Morning Cardigan in time for our Knitters Duluth trip but neglected to get some wonderful pictures of it and it deserves a nice photo shoot so I will save that for another day.
I also am so close to finishing Morticia I can taste it! I finished the last beaded row on Halloween and at 11 pm decided to opt for sanity and not stay up trying to finish the bind off. It's still not done but I want it to be finished so I need to get back to it soon! Since it's not blocked, right now it looks like a tangled black blob but I can assure you I will bore you to tears with it once it's really done.
Meanwhile, let me distract you with some photos of our wonderful trip and memories of great times.

The view from our hotel lobby was wonderful, that's Lake Superior out there. They had some lovely couches set up where we sat and knit.

There we are, taking over the main floor of the hotel. There were a total of thirteen of us that went. It was so much fun. I got to order real gluten free food in restaurants which was such a treat!

Pizza Luce was one of my favorites, of course!
Some of my lovely friends brought us treats. Buttons with cookies attached. Or the other way around.

My button says Knit Happens and I pawned the cookie off on someone else since I could not eat it.
Saturday we went to the yarn store Yarn Harbor, which is a great shop. I highly recommend checking it out if you'll be anywhere near it. I just couldn't decide what I wanted so I got the nerdiest souvenir a knitter could buy (probably).

A sock blocker key chain. Yes, it already has a sock on it. Then we headed over the bridge to the new Three Irish Girls dye studio.

 We got a tour and did some blanket seaming. This is one that was already done. Isn't it lovely?

Then it was back to the hotel for more knitting with a great view. We got to see a big ship come in.

The horse-drawn carriages that take people on rides by the lake.

And in general we had a really wonderful time. I had so much fun that it was bittersweet to come home.

(The lift bridge as pictured from our hotel parking lot.)
Since being home I've also started some things.
I've been using some Gritty Knits Merino of the month, often when the colors don't call out to be something specific, as a palate cleanser in between other spinning projects. I have been saving up the skeins. At first I wasn't sure what I would do with them but eventually I decided to knit the Mitered Crosses Blanket and after some math, I decided I had enough to at least get started and I knit my first block.

I love how it turned out and I have started the next one already. It's a great mindless in-between knitting project too! It does have a ton of ends to weave in so that is already done on this block and I will be weaving them in as I go so it doesn't get overwhelming.
I started one other thing this week (I've been resisting, you have no idea!) a pair of socks. These are being knit out of Deborah Norville Serenity Sock Weight yarn that I got a long time ago on sale at JoAnn Fabrics. The yarn is a Wool/Bamboo/Nylon blend and I'm finding it an interesting knit, even though it's plain stockinette socks

Don't start to panic but these are Christmas knitting. They're for my stepfather and I decided to get going so I don't get so panicky as we get closer to Christmas but the sad truth is; it's already coming, get started now.