Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Today is a New Day

I'm feeling so much better today than yesterday.

Maybe you think that my brother's quilt is done? Not so. It is no further than the pictures you saw. I knew even as I was writing about it that there was no way to finish it within schedule. And there was also no way to finish up the Christmas cards.

But I'm done and ready.

I give Kevin the credit for my peace of mind. He said (and I may be misquoting, but this is the gist), "Give him the quilt next year."

I said, "Hey! That's a good idea! I can just box up the pieces! That will amuse him!" (Yes indeed, I was in a full exclamation-mark state of mind.)

Kevin said, "No. Don't do that. Just let it go."

You know how you get a whack on the side of the head sometimes when you need it? That was mine for the week.

And so I let it all go. I know this: My brother will still love me. (Besides, he's already gotten a quilt this year.) My friends will get their cards later, and they will have more time to read them then. (I love to write Christmas newsletters that are ..... well, they're .... extremely long.) It all works.

I no longer have even a flicker of concern. And with letting go, it turns out that I was completely correct yesterday about having enough time. Thus, I say, as a free person:

Have a happy holiday, everyone!

And if you're not done with something and it's causing you undue stress and making the people around you miserable? You have my permission to let it go and be healthier.

Remember, this is supposed to be fun.

Monday, December 22, 2008

As My Sewing Progresses Very, Very Well, Right up onto Christmas

Kim often accuses me of being too optimistic. According to her, even when things are going wrong, I see us as having enough room for all the inventory, enough money for all the bills, enough time to accomplish everything on the list.

Most of the time, things go well for me in the end, although I do admit that my sunny disposition occasionally has a few conflicts with actual ... uh.... searching here for just the right word... oh, okay, let's just call it.... say.... "reality."

But Kim always comes up with solutions for my schemes, or sometimes I even think of my own solutions, and all is well.

Today Kim is home on vacation. I am in the store, working on a bedspread for my brother. I started it a year ago. It was a 6-step mystery. We were supposed to start it in January, do a step each month, and it would be finished by June. I figured that even if I ran a little behind, I'd give him the top for Christmas, then have it quilted later.

I ran a little behind.

But I had done a great job organizing it this summer, putting each step of instructions into its own labeled, zip-lock bag.

I admit right now that I'm still feeling just a bit behind on the bedspread. I even admit to a flicker of concern. As you can see, although it is indeed organized, it really doesn't look very big yet, or very bedspread-like.

I do have steps 1 and 2 finished, am about a quarter of the way through step 3 (well, let's call it a third of the way through; that's more accurate), and then I will just have to finish up with steps 4, 5, and 6. By Thursday.

Kim, on account of being home, has not come up with a solution for me.

But I still have a few days. I am positive that I will have enough time.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

It's a Wrap!

For the past year, we have been running a class based on the pattern "Wrap Me Up" by Chris de Longpré. Each month, we knitted 2 or 3 blocks, and by December, the wraps were finished--or at least pretty close to finished. And we headed out to Meyer Dairy.

For those of you who are reading this blog from out of the area, we live in a little town completely surrounded by farms. In other words, we are completely surrounded by ... cows. Having grown up here, I have always been amused that this gives State College, which is a university town, a bit of a sophistication complex.

Me? I pay sophistication no heed. The truth of the matter is that I have always been a big fan of cows. My father is a milking-machine specialist. You might even say that I bleed black and white.

You see, these cows give us a really, really good place to get milk and ice cream called Meyer Dairy.

This place has a nice, big seating area, big enough for a group of people to eat ice cream and knit. And, as I mentioned, it has really good ice cream. So for our finale tonight, we met at Meyer Dairy to eat ice cream and celebrate our finished objects. Or to eat ice cream!

So without further ado, may I present the first group of finished shawls:

And another group of a few finished and a few more soon-to-be-finished--but, I hasten to add, still-spectacular shawls!

Yup. That's me, on the far right, working it.

Want a shawl like one of these? Not a problem! Feel free to sign up for the class that will start this January. This is a great class if you haven't been knitting for very long. You'll get a lot of technique and gain a lot of confidence. Please join us!

Honestly, I can't wait to make another one. I admit, after tonight, to a bit of color envy.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Bring on the Holidays. I'm Ready.

I bet you think I am done with my shopping. Oh heavens, no. My gift knitting? Not gonna happen. My gift quilting? Not even close.

None of these. But I am now feeling ready for the holidays, nevertheless.

You see, to me, the holidays represent a great deal of knitting time, both in the car and among friends and family. A lot of my projects were at a standstill. I needed to get them organized so that I could continue knitting, while still being able chat and not look down too much. (In the car, so I don't get carsick. When talking with people, so I can make at least some eye contact.)

Knitting is portable, so when I'm on holiday, I always take my knitting. I have a lot of knitting projects going at once, mainly so that I always have something easy to work on.

But lately, on project after project, I began to get stuck over something. And the pileup began, faster than a foggy day on the Autobahn.

I had a day off the Monday before Thanksgiving, and I finally had a chance to sit down to sort it all out.

This is an easy little top, and there's no reason it's still hanging around--other than that I haven't knitted on it:

It's from the book One Skein Wonders: 101 Yarn Shop Favorites. (It's on p. 57 if you have a copy handy). It's just a little shrug, called Shrug This. I'm making it out of Tahki Torino Bulky. It's knit from the top down, and it's super easy. I need to spend a few hours and just finish it up. I have a row-by-row checkoff sheet made now.

I'm in similar shape on this vest:

It's a simple little v-necked vest that I found in a Tahki Yarns tweed booklet. I'm using Debbie Bliss Luxury Tweed to make mine. I have the front and back both done to the armhole shaping. In the background of the photo, you can see my self-instructions for finishing it up. Just a few more hours, and that vest is mine.

Silver Belle is fruit that is a bit higher hanging:

I have written out the chart for making the sleeves and bodice, sort of. ....well, not completely. This sweater is a big project, and it's just slow going. But it is so pretty, and Tahki Torino is a dream to knit. Every time I see it, I get a longing to work on it. Unfortunately, I do more longing than knitting sometimes.

Okay. This sweater must get done. I have had enough of it:

It's my shadow-knitting sweater. I've been working on it for 3 years. It's really cool: When you look at it face on (like this picture), you see stripes; from the side, you see checks. It's made from Harrisville Shetland. I just have the sleeves to go, and they're the easy part. I have charted them out, and I should be able to make quick work of them. ....As quick as you can do on size 2 needles.

Dear Kevin. I know that you chose the yarn for this sweater 10 years ago. I realize that I had many false starts on it until I came across the pattern for Elizabeth Zimmerman's "Seamless Hybrid." But I'm knitting it now. I promise to finish your sweater someday.

Do realize, however, that it is on size 4 needles. And know that I started this sweater at the beginning of our relationship, back during those early stages, when a size 4 needle seemed appropriately devoted and romantic. Fortunately, Kevin, my love for both you and the long-discontinued wool/alpaca yarn of this sweater has never faded. Someday, I promise, you will have your sweater.

(Note to reader: The black part at the bottom of Kevin's sweater, in case you were wondering, is a contrasting hemmed facing. According to Elizabeth Zimmerman, the knitter is supposed to write her initials and the year she finished the sweater into the hem. The unfinished sweater, with its constantly unfinished hem, therefore provides the guilty knitter, who has finished up plenty of sweaters for herself, with an extra reminder of time's passing.)

Starting in January, I'm doing a "Zimmermania" class once a month--a class to honor the most famous knitter ever, Elizabeth Zimmerman. (Don't worry. We are going to be knitting smaller things than a man's "Seamless Hybrid.")

To prep for this class, I started working on her February Baby Sweater out of this yarn:

Now, in all my organizing, I seem to have misplaced the actual sweater I had started.

But I'm sure I'll find it again, and then I will get to work on it, and this wound-up ball of yarn is ready to go when I run out of the first ball of yarn.

I'm also working on a Fair Isle sweater from the Philosopher's Wool book, using Harrisville Highland. One sleeve is almost done, and I've started the second. Fair Isle is completely addictive. Unfortunately, my addiction has been overshadowed by my lack of time.

But I have it organized now! As soon as I can get back to work on it, I know just what to do!

And finally, my little crocheted jacket in Silk Garden from So Simple Crochet:

Just the sleeves. Come on. Crochet is supposed to be faster than knitting. Why is it taking so long? Maybe because I modified the pattern and forgot what I wanted to do for the sleeves. And because I have been staring at it rather than crocheting. It doesn't seem to be getting finished that way.

So lately, what with all my organizing, I have developed a new theory.

The theory is that knitting actually progresses only when you actually--ready for this?--work on the knitting. You can't just think about knitting, dream about knitting, blog about knitting. If you get stuck, you have to work your way through that sticking point because you have to knit. And when you do--voila! You might make some progress, or even finish something.

So for the next blog entry I write, I vow to show you something finished from the above.

But probably not Silver Belle.