Wrapped up in Virginia

I fell off the radar when I hopped in the car and drove out to the Virginia countryside for the winter holiday.  It was beautiful, sunny, relaxing, and time stood still for a few days as I enjoyed the rest and atmosphere.  I did remember to photograph the Esjan shawl before deciding to give it away.

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In a moment of solitude, I walked to the top of the hill and laid out the shawl.  The colors really shined with the soft, setting sunlight hitting it.

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While the colors are beautiful and I love the pattern, the combination of it all didn’t feel like me.  It wasn’t quite bright enough or soft enough.  I will probably make it again, but next time, I will start with more stitches and create more of a crescent shape instead of the half circle.

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I can’t believe we only have one more day left of 2013.  I’m spending a lot of my time today thinking about the past year – all of the ups and downs, the tears, the laughter, all of the wonderful adventures I embarked on and the amount of personal growth I felt.  It’s been incredible.

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The shawl ended up with someone who truly appreciated it.  I have dozens of photographs of what I did in Virginia, along with more stories and thoughts about 2013 and the quickly approaching 2014.  I hope you are having a wonderfully festive time and gaining everything you need from it.

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Yesterday was the white elephant swap at Gothee House. I had been working on my contribution up until we left the house to go to the party. I didn’t snap any pictures before wrapping them, so I had to wait anxiously for them to be opened in order to capture a photograph.

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The Nyan Cat scarf was the first to be opened.  It was much sought after throughout the game, which made me feel really good.  I had been worried that I had picked a meme that was funny and would be appreciated, but no one would actually want to wear it.  The people who tried to claim it surprised me a little – definitely not the individuals I would have pegged for wanting a bright rainbow scarf.

The other item didn’t get opened until the very end of the game, when we were opening the extra gifts for the final swap (to make sure everyone left with something they liked).  Ellette laid claim over the item.

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We call it the Gothicorn.

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It is made from Cascade Magnum, a ridiculously lush and chunky yarn in a beautiful blue.  The horn is made from a pale yellow in Ella Rae classic, and the mane is a bunch of odds and ends I threw together to make the unicorn more goth (the theme for the party was “gothic elf”, which we embraced with abandon).

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The hat is the Unicorn Hat, and my fifth or sixth one made.  I adore the design.  Ellette wore the hat for the remainder of the evening, and left the house this morning with it firmly on her head.

I have had to slow down on my knitting even more, and crochet is out of the question as it sends a strange numbing sensation up my arm.  I’ve kind of said “screw it” to trying to make anything in time for the holidays.  Now I’m racking my brains for other gift ideas and my knitting has gone to a slower paced – what-do-I-actually-want-to-make format.  What has happened thusly is that all of the designs I’ve been sketching, charting, writing, and desiring are being realized (one is even with test-knitters now).

Something Finished Something Started

With NaKniSweMo starting on Friday, I have been simultaneously prepping for that while wrapping up everything else possible.  The yarn is purchased and wound (I have just over 1500 yards here, I really hope that’s enough, but get the feeling I should buy one or two more skeins).  I am knitting An Aran for Frederick, which has been in my queue since the pattern was released a couple years ago.  It was the first aran I saw that I thought suited my desires in an aran sweater.

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For those of you who don’t know what NaKniSweMo is, let me explain.  The month of November has traditionally been allocated to budding writers as a challenge to write a full novel with a 50,000 word count within the 30 day month.  It has been called NaNoWriMo – National Novel Writing Month.  Well, knitters (and to a lesser extent, crocheters) have decided to take the month for themselves and create our own challenge.  Enter, NaKniSweMo (or NaCroSweMo) – National Knit a Sweater Month.  We have 30 days to knit a sweater consisting of at least 50,000 stitches.  Seems like a lot, right?  Most adult sized sweaters knit with a standard worsted weight yarn have at least 50k stitches in them, so it’s not too much of a stretch for most.  This will be my second year participating.  Last year, I made Barberry and discovered a lot of useful information about knitters, math, and technology (I had so many awesome spreadsheets to manage my stitch count).  I finished in 28 days with a stitch count exceeding 66 thousand.  This is still my go-to sweater!

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So, last night I stayed up later than I meant to, determined to make as much headway as possible before Friday.  I finished my pokeball purse – a holiday gift.  Although, when I finished weaving in the ends and got a good look at it, it strikes me as more of a magic pill (think the Matrix) than a pokeball.  The bottom is not rounded enough.  I will get through as much other knitting as possible, and if I still don’t like it later, I will rip back to the red and try again.  It’s a good, mindless pattern, so I think it’ll go by quickly.

I worked a bit on other things, but they didn’t end up complete which is why they are not pictured.  I worked a few more rows on Esjan and even brought out my Tech Square Afghan!  I worked on some of the duplicate stitch things (the major thing I’ve been putting off), and then sewed on some of the embellishments.  It needs probably 20 minutes of loving before being complete, and my own resolution is that I have it done by Thursday night.  Tonight I have my Cyr wheel class and will be getting home late and sore, so I’m not sure how much I can accomplish tonight.

The Right Motivation

A couple of nights ago, I found myself sucked into the Ravelry black hole – that one where you keep finding new designers and patterns and variations of patterns, which leads you to forums and blogs and chatting with random knitters/crocheters/crafters on the internet until the wee hours of the morning.  In this particular instance, I found someone’s blog about an afghan they crocheted, which led me to their Ravelry page, which led me to a designer’s page, and it spiraled from there.  Before I knew it, a couple dozen projects had been added to my queue and I was wiping drool from my chin.

It was successful, however, in that I discovered the perfect holiday gift for Ellette.  She has been on a My Little Pony craze – which I guess is normal for girls her age, but I don’t recall being that interested in My Little Ponies when I was 8 (I was hung up on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and the Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers, and maybe The Little Mermaid – I’m girly somewhere in my being).

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She has a friend’s birthday party this weekend and has been bugging me incessantly about finding a particular Pony for this girl.  Out of curiosity, I showed Ellette this pattern.  Her eyes lit up and enlarged as she looked through the projects that had been made already.

“Mom!” She said excitedly. “Will you teach me how to crochet so I can make one, too?”

I have tried to teach her how to knit and crochet, as have the lovely ladies at knit night.  She showed interest in the project that slowly waned until she meandered away to draw.  It warms my heart to know that even after trying it, she doesn’t feel discouraged and bored with the craft, but recognizes that it is something that requires practice and patience, and if she has those two things, she can learn.  Whereas most kids (and even adults) will see a project that is obviously knit or crocheted and ask “Will you make that for me?”  she saw the project and said “I could make that” even though she doesn’t know how to hold the needles/hook or work the stitches.  I couldn’t be more proud of her ambition and self-confidence.

I was debating asking her what her favorite character was, afraid that it would give away my desire to make her one for the holidays, when she piped up and said “If I make one for myself, I would make Rainbow Dash.  She’s my favorite.”

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Now, I just have to make sure I have the right colors in my stash.

That Time of Year

I cast off the blanket today.  I am unsure if it needs a block or not – maybe a quick steam and pin.  So, I’m looking around now and what’s on the needles and thinking about what I want to start next, and then it hit me. 

We’re halfway through September.  I have only three months to prep for the gift-giving holidays.  And, following my 2013 resolutions – it’s all from stash, because I haven’t even cracked the surface of my hoard yet.

So, I made a spreadsheet and this afternoon began slowly filling it in.  Who is getting a knitted gift this year?  What do I want to make them?  What yarn am I going to use?

Over the next few days, I’ll put yarn with needles and pattern, and map out a schedule so I can get everything done in an orderly fashion.

And maybe, just maybe, I won’t be running around crazy at the end of the year.

Those are famous last words if I ever heard them.

Have you started holiday prep yet?

Beginning the Countdown

Ellette’s birthday is approaching faster than I would like to admit.  I still maintain that nothing makes you feel older than having children.  They grow so quickly, and surprise you all the time, that you don’t realize how much time has passed until it slaps you in the face with some witty remark by your offspring.

All Ellette asked for this year was a doorbell (for the apartment, not her room) and a puppy (which we do not have the space or finances for at this moment).  My response was to dig through my stash and start knitting.

 

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This is a flowy vest type thing that will have a drape neck to it once it’s completed.  For now, it has a beautiful diamond lace pattern on the back and solid fronts.  That front that looks mostly done – yeah, I have to rip it out because I am not satisfied with the rate of decrease I went with for the neck edge.

 

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It is getting difficult to work on at this point because she is getting wise to what I am making.  She doesn’t know this is for her, thankfully, but now I can only work on it after she goes to bed – which leaves me with a horrible sleep deficit.  I have the last bit of two fronts to do, then blocking, seaming, and picking up and knitting the collar.  I am not sure what to do to the bottom hem, if anything.  I want it to have a nice drape without being heavy, so maybe I will leave it alone.  Or a single crochet edge ro prevent rolling?  Thoughts?

Oh yeah – I have 10 days to finish.  Start the clock.

Swatch You Looking At?

Ellette’s birthday is quickly approaching, and I have been occupied by other things.  With money being as tight as it is around here, I thought long and hard about what to do.  The big expense was for her party – we are seeing the Actor’s Gymnasium’s production of Skooled with about 12 other kids and renting a room in the facility for cake and presents afterwards.  That left little budget to work with in regards to a present.

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Luckily, I have more yarn than I need at the moment, and Ellette is the kind of kid who loves the fact that I knit, and lo, I knit for her!  She wants to show off everything I make and tries to take care of it.  I know that every moment I spend making her things is cherished.  So, I did a stash dive and came up with several balls of Cotton Painte in this beautiful blue.  Ellette is really into layering her clothes, and I want something she can wear into the hot summer months, so I decided a flowy vest would be perfect.  I swatched the above lace patterns before realizing how similar they are.  Trust me, they are different!  Still, I had a good laugh at myself once I set the swatch to block and measured my gauge.

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A bit of math and a couple false starts later, and the vest is flying by.  I started the second ball and measure 6 inches.  The only shaping involved is going to be for the arm holes, and then I will add a drape-neck collar with whatever yarn I have leftover.

And, before you ask, I am taking meticulous notes because I do want to make one for myself.  Thankfully, Ellette is at an age still where matching her mother is kind of cool and not embarrassing.

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