Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Belated New Year's Resolutions

I started talking about a yarn fast a few months ago. And then I went to trunk shows and won some yarn. A friend of mine suggested that I was actually on a yarn diet, not a yarn fast. I agree that it is probably more realistic to plan to restrict my yarn purchases, instead of banning any new yarn purchase altogether. And since I don't want to end up with a stash of unmanageable proportions, I really need to take this yarn diet seriously. Especially since I'll be moving across the continent in a few months, and I don't want to have to explain to the customs officer why I have all this yarn...

In an effort to make this yarn diet more effective, I have decided to put some rules in writing for everyone to see, in the hope that it will make me stick to them.

Here they are:

1. I am allowed to purchase yarn to knit/crochet gifts, if and only if suitable yarn is not available in the stash. Priority should be given to using yarn from the stash. If there is suitable yarn in the stash but not in the quantity required for a given project, I will be allowed to purchase yarn to meet the yarn requirements. If the stash does not contain ANY suitable yarn, I should seriously consider choosing a different project instead of buying new yarn.

2. Yarn purchases are allowed on trips as souvenirs. These purchases should be limited in quantity... A few rules about such purchases:
- NO MORE SOCK YARN! According to Ravelry, I have 22 skeins of sock yarn and I have yet to complete a pair of socks. Granted, I have been using sock yarn for non-sock projects, but I really think I should stop buying sock yarn. Even if sock yarn is pretty and variegated.
- The purchase should be limited to yarn for one project.
- Ideally, preference should be given to yarn that is unavailable locally (in Seattle) and definitely shouldn't already be available in the stash...

3. The yarn diet does not apply to patterns, needles/hooks, or other accessories. Anything that helps me go through stash yarn is welcome.

4. Yarn sales and trunk shows should be avoided. In the case where my resolve falters and I do attend such an event, the rules are the same as in #2.

5. Yarn won in contests doesn't count... I figure the chances of me winning more yarn this year are slight.

I solemnly swear that I will try to adhere to these rules for all of 2008.

Friday, January 11, 2008

2007 in letters

Sometimes I wonder if I'm unable of original thought... It seems I'm getting a lot of blogging ideas from Emily. She is a more experience blogger, so I guess it's not surprising. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, isn't it?

Emily recently posted a list of all the books she read in 2007. Here's mine:

1. Odette Toulemonde et autres histoires, Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt
2. Shopaholic and Baby, Sophie Kinsella
3. The Memory Keeper's Daughter, Kim Edwards
4. A Respectable Trade, Philippa Gregory (borrowed from Nora)
5. Fruit of the Lemon, Andrea Levy
6. The Namesake, Jhumpa Lahiri
7. The Secret of the Pink Carnation, Lauren Willig
8. The Masque of the Black Tulip, Lauren Willig
9. The Deception of the Emerald Ring, Lauren Willig
10. Bloodletting and other miraculous cures, Vincent Lam
11. Joseph Balsamo, Alexandre Dumas
12. The Continuity Girl, Leah McLaren
13. Le collier de la reine, Alexandre Dumas
14. Practically Perfect, Katie Fforde
15. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, J.K. Rowling
16. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, J.K. Rowling
17. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, J.K. Rowling
18. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, J.K. Rowling
19. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, J.K. Rowling
20. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, J.K. Rowling
21. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, J.K. Rowling
22. Gucci Gucci Coo, Sue Margolis (borrowed from Nora)
23. Goodnight Nobody, Jennifer Weiner (borrowed from Nora)
24. Queen of Babble in the Big City, Meg Cabot (borrowed from my mother)
25. Bergdorf Blondes, Plum Sykes (borrowed from my mother)
26. Hadassa, Myriam Beaudoin
27. Life Skills, Katie Fforde
28. Storm World, Chris Mooney
29. The Hopeless Romantic's Handbook: A Novel, Gemma Townley
30. Kitchen Confidential, Anthony Bourdain
31. Break No Bones, Kathy Reichs
32. A Cook's Tour, Anthony Bourdain
33. The Nasty Bits, Anthony Bourdain
34. Ni d'Eve, ni d'Adam, Amelie Nothomb (borrowed from my mother)
35. Chagrin d'ecole, Daniel Pennac (borrowed from my mother)
36. Dedication, Emma McLaughlin (borrowed from my mother)
37. The Xmas Factor, Annie Sanders
38. Bright Lights, Big Ass, Jen Lancaster
39. Three Wishes, Liane Moriarty
40. The Club Dumas, Arturo Perez Reverte
41. Maneater, Gigi Levangie Grazier
42. Big Boned, Meg Cabot (borrowed from my mother)
43. Typhoid Mary, Anthony Bourdain

Not bad... that's almost a book a week!

A few thoughts:
- Of course, I re-read all the Harry Potter books before I read the seventh and final book!

- I discovered Anthony Bourdain when he appeared as a guest judge on Top Chef last summer. I loved his books! I grew up in a house where food was very important, so I can relate to that, but I knew nothing of the restaurant world... I gave my mother a copy of "Kitchen Confidential" for Christmas.

- I've been on a "chick lit" kick for the last couple of years. Some of them are well written, some are just entertaining. It's usually "feel good" reading, which I enjoy after spending the day reading and writing about serious and complicated stuff for my dissertation...

Now if I could only find a way to read and knit at the same time...

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

2007 in stitches

A list of finished objects of 2007:

1. Latvian Mittens, for Catherine
2. Clapotis, for myself
3. Baby Surprise Jacket, for Youri
4. Red Light Hat Special, for Hugo
5. Red Light Hat Special, for Anne-Marie
6. Lu, for myself
7. Baby Hat to match the BSJ, for Youri
8. Ana Hat, for myself
9. Christmas Stocking, for Youri
10. Dale Pink Hat, for ?

1. Crochet hat, for Chantale
2. Red and Pink Scarf (my own pattern), for myself
3. Silk Garden scarf (using a pattern stitch from Harmony Guides volume 7), for myself
4. Navajo Baby Blanket, for Hugo
5. Pretty in Pink Sundress, for Baptistine
6. Rainbow Baby Blanket, for Youri
7. Cupwarmer, for Nora
8. Cupwarmer, for Emily
9. Bamboo scarf, for Christine

Is that a lot? It seems to be less than I thought. Before this blog and before Ravelry, I probably wasn't keeping track of my knitting accomplishments as thoroughly...

In the interest of full disclosure, a few unfinished objects started in 2007:

1. Colinette toe-up socks on 2 circulars, 75% done
(my first pair of socks. the cast-off on the first one is not stretchy, which means I should rip it out. If I can redo just the casting off, I could get around to finishing the second sock. But I also don't like to feel the definition of the stitches under my foot when I try on the finished sock. The yarn is really pretty.
Plan: try to fix the cast off. If it doesn't work, who knows?

2. Cotton fair isle socks, about 15% done
I like the idea of cotton socks better than wool socks. Wonderful yarn to work with, and fair isle is always fun. Got sidetracked onto other projects, but should really finish this one.
Plan: pick it up again (but when?)

3. Endpaper mitts, about 55% done
I should really finish these. Emily got inspired to knit hers when she saw mine (or the first one of the pair to be more precise). She finished hers ages ago and I still have to finish the second one of my pair. The problem is that I'm on really thin bamboo needles for the wrist ribbing and the thin and pointy needles hurt my fingers. If I can get past the ribbing, I should be fine.
Plan: finish these before the end of winter...

4. Hundertwasser socks, 50% done (one sock)
I knit these as a gift for a friend. Her birthday came and went, so I put them aside to work on more pressing things.
Plan: finish for this year's birthday (mid-April).

5. Lotus Blossom Tank Top, 25% done
I was knitting this for myself after seeing how pretty it was on Emily, but got sidetracked to work on baby gifts.
Plan: pick it up again in the Spring

6. Montego Bay Scarf, 5% done
I fell in love with the yarn, and cast on immediately. The yarn is all pinks and pale greens, yellows, and purples. It seemed like a little taste of Spring in November.
Plan: make this a traveling project?

7. Moss Grid Hand Towel, 55% done with the first of two.
Another project inspired by Emily. I need to finish these ASAP, as they were planned as a gift for a reception back in November. The intended recipients don't know about them, so they're not waiting expectantly for them, but I should still get on it.
Plan: Bus project until finished.

8. Baby cable sweater, 5% done (for one of the many babies I know...)
I started it in November, thinking I might finish it for Christmas but then decided to knit the Christmas Stocking.
Plan: rip it out and start over in 9 month size.

That doesn't even include all the other projects I have in mind and for which I already have yarn... Maybe I'll save that for another day...

A Surefire Way To Avoid The Dreaded "Second Sock Syndrome"

Why, knit a sock that needs no mate, of course! What am I talking about? A Christmas Stocking. This is the (long-awaited) secret project that came from the yarn pictured in my last post. See, I didn't forget to tell you...


Pattern: Fireside Stocking from Interweave Knits Holiday Gifts 2007 special issue. The pattern is by Kate Gilbert (whose pattern are brilliant, in my humble opinion). Modified to add the personalized border.

Modifications: Knit the pattern as directed until the end of the leg chart. Then, instead of knitting the hem straightaway, I knit a two-color braid using instructions from Latvian Mittens, by Lizbeth Upitis. For the personalized border, I came up with my own chart (wrote it up in Excel: my brother was so proud, as he creates Excel spreadsheets for everything, but this was a use of Excel that he hadn't thought of before...). I got inspiration from letter charts I found on-line and in different knitting books, but eventually made up my own to fit the number of stitches I had on the needles. The chart was for half the number of stitches, starting in mid-front. I knit it twice, which means my nephew's name appears on both sides of the stocking (his name will appear with either side of the stocking facing out, to account for hanging it on either side of the chimney... or to ensure that Santa Claus doesn't miss his name). I knit another two-color braid on top, and then knit the hem in red and attached it at the bottom of the personalized border.

Yarn: Cascade 220 in two shades of red (5013, 9404), three shades of green (8267, 9407, 2429), and ivory (8505). Instead of the blues and purples suggested in the pattern, I decided to go for reds and greens which I felt were more traditional Christmas stocking colors. Basically, I substituted the blues/purples for greens or reds on alternating rows of squares. I kept the idea of going from dark to light to dark colors for the greens. Because I only had two shades of red, I used the dark color for the center rows.

Needles: US 5/3.75mm in DPN and 16" circular needle. I used a slightly bigger needle size because I tend to knit more tightly in fair-isle.

Here it is, filled with presents for my nephew! He's too little to appreciate the stocking (or the presents, really), but his parents were very happy! And the stocking will be used for years to come...

Next up: a list of finished objects from 2007, plans for 2008, and a few resolutions...