Friday, January 6

I should know better..

...than to make any kind of plans to finish something!

I was just cruising along on my A Little Bit Irish cardigan, or so I thought! I'm not sure if I messed up while at the airport, but I know I messed up on the increases while at knit night. The end result was frogging 7 rows of work:

Then I had to knit it all up again so I wouldn't have a knotted mess:

Now I can cruise again until it's time to start the next ball of yarn, and I'll pause to count rows and stitches and such then!

Thursday, January 5

All brainless knitting isn't the same!

Tonight was my monthly knitting night. It's something I really need for several reasons. First of all, it tends to be my only contact with real people. With not working outside of the home, and being out in the middle of nowhere, and not having any friends out here, I simply don't have contact with people outside of my home other than the internet! It's also nice to meet with other knitters and crocheters... see what they're working on, get to feel and see different yarns and tools... just talk with other people that "get it"... ones whose eyes don't glaze over when you start talking about how smooth your new needles are, how squishy and soft your new yarn is, etc etc.

I learned long ago that for any knit night, that the project(s) I bring to work on have to be mindless, no pattern to follow, nothing that requires counting rows, no counting stitches above about 10. I decided to bring Raith's Wild sock, and my Little Bit Irish cardigan with me. The sock is over halfway down the foot, so I wouldn't have to worry about counting rows before starting the toe. The cardigan is at the point where I increase before and after the markers, and purl the wrong side. Both are very suitable for knit night, or so I thought!

The place we met this time was a restaurant, and was very poorly lit. That eliminated the possibility of knitting on the sock, as the yarn is quite dark for the most part. That meant working on the cardi, which is what I wanted to work on anyway! Well, at the end of the night, as I was saying my goodbyes, I commented about how I was going to go home and check my increases to make sure I got them all. I had knit about 6 rows of my cardi, which is 3 increase rows, but with chatting and such, I'm not completely sure if I remembered to do my increases before and after each marker! LOL!!

Nicole =o)

Wednesday, January 4

Travelling means slippers!

I can't recall exactly when the tradition started, but whenever Derek travels, I make him a new pair of slippers. He used to "blow through" a pair every time he went away, so I simply began making him a new pair before he left! Well, he has needed a new pair for some time now, and since his flight is at 7am, I figured it was about time I made some! I'm proud to announce my first FO of 2012: Derek's Travelling Slippers

I have also set up knitmeters on the sidebar to note how much yarn I've worked through this year. I downloaded my stash database on Ravelry, and it's over 170 km of yarn! Since this project was about 183m, that means I crocheted up 1/1000th of my stash! LOL! I will only be adding to that total as a project is finished, so the numbers will stay static until projects are done.

I am currently working on the yoke of my cardigan while I wait for the time for Derek and I to leave for the airport. I'm not getting the 3+ hours of knitting time as I had hoped because his 7am flight requires us to leave home by 2am! I can knit by feel somewhat, but I can't knit in total darkness. Here's how the collar turned out:

I will keep on working on this until it's time to get ready to go in about an hour or so. We printed up the pattern for the rose-coloured afghan today, so I'm pretty sure that Derek thinks that is the project I will be working on... won't he be surprised when he returns?!? I'm also hoping to have the cardigan done, or nearly done by the time he gets back. The cardigan, the popcorn afghan, and the commissioned projects will definitely keep me busy mindlessly for when I need a diversion from my mind wandering to places that it best not wander off to.

Nicole =o)

Tuesday, January 3

The little swatch that could!

Yesterday I was talking about my swatch, and here it is:

This is the third one I did, and is the correct stitch count per inch at long last! I slogged through the rest of the collar and got started on the body. I only did a couple rows of the body, enough to establish the increases. Those couple of rows were enough to make it easier going now that I'm using the larger needle size. 3.5mm needles and worsted/ aran weight yarn don't mix all that well, no matter how good your needles are! I'm not sure how much I will get done on this daily... I'm sorta aiming for around 10 rows, but since it will be over 300 stitches at the underarm before dividing for the sleeves, that number is definitely negotiable! I'm taking this project and Raith's socks with me on the drive to the airport, so I will have 3 solid hours of knitting time, and possibly more if I wait with Derek for his flight!

I want this project to be one of my "mindless" ones, which means that I don't really have to think. Follow the directions on the pattern, and "just do it"! I like these kinds of projects for the break from the brain-busting that some of my designing does. It's a treat to be able to just sit and knit and not have to think about what I'm doing, how I'm doing it, and getting it written down in a way that resembles English. It's relaxing and soothing in a way that is hard to describe. I enjoy designing... I really do, but I also like to zone-out and feel the rythym of the stitches being formed by my fingers. All that being said, I am changing the type of increases that the pattern calls for. It calls for all eight increases to be standard m1 increases. While this type will serve the purpose, I really prefer to have mirrored increases, especially in a place as visible as a raglan sleeve. The increases I do are a type of lifted increase that I saw in a book once, and they give it a very nice look IMO. They don't take any more time, and I do them without really thinking about it anyway... kind of like how I do a ssk for any decrease paired with a k2tog, or a sl1 k2tog psso for any centred double decrease.

In unrelated news, I found the other missing pattern for my UFO afghan. I was searching around Ravelry a bit when I remembered a printed pattern I had found in the craft room by "SAG55". Searched a little bit more, and found the pattern I wanted on the Internet Archive. It's called Basketweave Afghan, and I remember it being a completely brainless project. It was my "bus project" for some time until it basically out-grew the shopping bag I carried it in. When I was looking at it, I guess-timated it to be around 50% done, and that's how I've entered it into my projects page. I also entered Derek's Popcorn MAM into my projects, but that pattern isn't linked in Ravelry either. I get started on that one Wednesday night!

Nicole =o)

Monday, January 2

Planning... and swatching... (fail to plan and you plan to fail)

I have discovered that I am a person that likes to report things "after the fact", rather than posting about what I plan to do. Yes, I like making plans and stating goals, but more in a longer-term sense, not a day-by-day "to do" list. Part of it is that it is easier for me to write in the evenings, after the house has quieted down a bit. The other part of it is that I know I rarely get done everything I plan to in any given day. I tend to "over-book" myself. The longer term goals are more realistic for me to complete on time... it's just how I seem to manage.

Yesterday is a typical example of my normal goals. It was Sunday, even though it really didn't feel like one, that means I'm supposed to be doing project finishing details. I ended up doing the opposite by starting a new project! I swatched for my "Tweed Cardigan" (link in yesterday's post), which I've named "A Little Bit Irish" in my Ravelry projects. My intent was to simply do the swatch, and then get on with other things I wanted to get done. As I half-expected, the needles called for in the pattern gave me a swatch that was off by one stitch width-wise, and dead-on for the row count. This is the same result I had when swatching for my cabled pullover (Gonna Try to Cable Pullover in my Ravelry projects. Unfortunately, in my enthusiasm for this project -- or was it haste to get on with something else? -- I decided to go *up* one size of needles for the next swatch, but I was trying for 17 stitches per 4 inches instead of the 16 stitches I got on my sample.

A quick lesson in gauge/ tension:

For those of you that are muggles (meaning non-knitters/crocheters), I will explain the importance of gauge for this project. Even my middle DD, who is a knitter and crocheter, looked at me puzzled when I said it was off by one stitch. It is only one stitch, how much difference can it make? A lot actually! The cardigan I am making has a finished chest measurement of 48 inches (~122cm). The gauge swatch is 4 inches (~10cm). A difference of just one stitch in the swatch means a difference of 16 stitches in the project. That means if I don't adjust my gauge, that I will end up with a sweater that's a full 4 inches larger than I want!
Needless to say, my 2nd swatching  attempt didn't match the stitch count I needed! Finally, by going down a size, I got the prescribed tension on my 3rd swatch. My row count is off slightly, but this patterns is written in such a way that the row gauge isn't as critical. I will be trying this cardigan on frequently while doing the shaping so I can add in extra rows when I need to. A good portion of (all? more than?) the time I wanted to spend knitting was spent on these swatches. After all that, I didn't really have time to do much more, but I did anyway! A needle of the proper size was assembled, a fresh skein of yarn obtained, and the collar was cast on. I only meant to do about 2 rows, with the intent of finishing the collar next time... however this skein produced a bigger wad of yarn barf than the previous, so I simply kept knitting until it was all cleaned up... which ended up being 6 rows. No time left to work on the "must-do" projects...

and that is why I don't write at the beginning of my day!

Nicole =o)

Sunday, January 1

Facing it... and avoiding it...

Anybody who knows me, knows that I find different ways of avoiding things when I can. When I'm very stressed out about something, especially something that's out of my control, I tend to "escape" and typically that's into my video games mostly. It's the easiest way for me to occupy my brain with something brainless. That's why I was playing my games like nuts on Facebook Friday night... keeping my mind off of our loss.

During the day I did a ton of searching and such for my queue, and project plans for next year. It was a great way to focus my attention away from what was going on around me, and getting something accomplished as well. If you go back through my blog archives, you will find that quite frequently, my "avoidance days" are often my most productive days... just in other things!

So just what did I manage to accomplish?

Firstly, I discovered that any search for a cardigan pattern on Ravelry can not include "free" patterns unless you have about 4 days to go through all of the possibilities! I narrowed my search parameters to just what I already have in my vast library. With the selection of a few criteria, my choices were now down to just over 250 (from the well over 3000 when I included "free"!). This was a much more manageable list to go through. All of the ones that interested me enough, I added to my Ravelry favourites listing, along with a few keywords to help me sort through them later. After a few hours were spent on that, the 250-ish was down to about 30 realistic options. I tend to keep very few things saved in my queue and favourites, mainly using them for a "true" listing of what I want to make. Next, I went through the remaining patterns, and refined it all... adding yarn, size info; suitable Knit Picks yarn choices and the like. I ended up adding 5 (I think) of these to my queue, leaving the remainder in my favourites for the time being.

I am extremely serious about becoming more focussed in my projects this coming year. I want a sweater a month, a shawl a month, a design a month, a pair of socks a month, and an afghan a month! Those are pretty lofty goals, but since I already have some of these in progress, and the design can go hand-in-hand with one of the other categories, it isn't completely out of my reach. Now that I had quite a few sweaters and shawls in my queue, the next order of business was to get it all sorted. I added the tag "2012plan" to the projects I wanted to concentrate on the most... the sweaters and shawls... many in kit form just waiting for me to start them. After a lot of fiddling around with project order, and tags, and what still needed yarn to be purchased, I now had a game plan for most the first six months of 2012.

Nicole's Project Plan - January-June 2012

I realize that I haven't planned afghans or socks for March and beyond. I have the rose-coloured afghan, and Wayne's afghan to finish, as well as a new design that's intended for Alex that I need to work on a bit and see if it will be accepted into the KP-IDP. I also have several other UFO/ WIPs in various states of completion. When it comes to socks, I'm never at a loss for projects! Derek is in desperate need of work socks, and I have several designs that need finishing up. As the end of February draws near, or I complete my January/ February goals, I can then decide what projects to spend my time on next.

Since beginning quilting and starting to sew again are also goals of mine for this next year, I am strongly considering creating a weekly plan... this day is for sewing... that day is for afghans... this day is for sweaters... you get the idea. I won't be able to purchase any of the quilting and sewing supplies I want/ need until the end of the month at the earliest, so whatever day I choose for sewing will be a "craft room organization day" for the time being. Sundays used to be for end-weaving, and that's what I want to do again... weaving in ends, and other project finishing details including photography. Monday is traditionally my "heavy cleaning" day, so working on the craft room fits in well there. That leaves me five more days to "assign", and I can work on that once the kids go back to school on the 9th (or is it the 10th). By that time Derek will be gone too, so I should have a couple of weeks to work on this "system". Fingers crossed that I can have that all sorted by the end of the month.

Wish me luck... oh, and HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

Nicole =o)