Q1 progress

April 1, 2011

Ok, one quarter down, a short break in the yarn fast and a quick progress update.

From January 1 to March 31, 2011 I have knit 33 FULL BALLS OF YARN.  ahem.  Yep, 33 balls of yarn.  That’s 3660 metres and 29.72% of my goal.  I am AHEAD OF SCHEDULE.  Which is surprising and makes me happy.  It’s also a good thing to be slightly ahead when the inevitable “knitting injury” happens or I just don’t feel like knitting during the dog days of July and August.

I had a little fall off the “woolly wagon” in early March when I bought six balls of Lion Brand Wool Ease and a ball of LB Homespun.  But the Homespun was to finish a project that ended up not fitting me but looks AMAZING on my massage therapist.  So it wasn’t a total waste.

I’ve started 19 projects and have finished 16 of them.  Granted most are small things like mittens but they are eating up yarn like crazy and I’m making a scrappy blanket out of the remainders.  Which is also eating up yarn.  When it’s all over I might even add a page here outlining what I’ve made and how much yarn it used up.  Maybe.  If I’m not too lazy.

April is also my month to take a break from stash knitting.  It is my birthday month, but it’s more likely any birthday money I get will go to fill up my gas tank than towards yarn.  But I am going to the States in 13 days and I know I’ll buy some of that big-box-yarn-we-don’t-have-here-in-Soviet-Canukistan JUST BECAUSE I CAN.  Also because my parents will be driving my suitcase and anything bulky I buy back home.  So the incentive to keep my purchases to Air Canada luggage weight allotments has literally flown right out the window.  And, as if US big box stores and Florida LYS’ weren’t temptation enough, Webs is having their annual two month anniversary sale.  BUT, I can only buy yarn in April.  So there are some small mercies.

Overall though, I have to say that it’s kind of fun to knit from the stash.  Yes, thank you I am feeling ok.  No, I’m not suffering from a fever.  It’s very liberating to go through ALL THE STASH (and believe me there is a lot of it) and remember what I bought and figure out what I’m going to do with it.  I try to do this at least once a month.  My queue changes constantly and I don’t have nearly enough acrylic or mostly acrylic for the scrappy blanket I’m making I have noticed. 

It’s also liberating to give yarn away.  I’ve donated a few skeins to my knitting friends and I have one skein that is awaiting postage to a far away friend.  As the year goes on I’ll likely donate some to the onsite day care or people who will love it more than I do. 

Three months down and I’m still excited about this project.  Maybe I’ll do it again next year.

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A momentary lapse

March 4, 2011

So, I’ve been on a yarn diet since October.  It’s actually a yarn fast since I haven’t actually bought ANY yarn but a calling it a yarn diet works.  It doens’t sound so severe and painful.  Actually it’s not been that painful.  I’ve avoided yarn shops and opening emails from Webs and other stores I used to frequent while I was online.  I bypassed the Spinnrite Winter Sale.  I haven’t missed buying yarn all that much either.  I’ve looked through my stash (several times) and my pattern books and I’ve got probably ten things I want to knit RIGHT THIS  MOMENT.  I also have the suggested yarn for those projects too, which is serendipitous.

During one of my stash shopping trips I found a lonely ball of Lion Brand Homespun (in Edwardian) and remembered that I had bought it with the express purpose of making this shrug.  The Hubs and I are going to a wedding this weekend and I figured it’d be easier to knit this than wrestle with a pashmina-type wrap all night.  Plus I get to add another ball of yarn to my 111 in 2011 project.  So I cast on Monday night.  Wednesday night I knew the yarn requirements were wrong.  Even if I didn’t add another five rows of garter stitch to the back I’d be hooped and have run out of yarn midway through the back.  I wasn’t about to frog the Homespun (ugh) and I didn’t want to toss it. 

So, a trip to Michaels.  For one ball of yarn.  One.  Ball. Of. Yarn.  That turned into seven.  That F’ing Michaels had Wool-Ease on sale for $2.49 a ball.  $2.49!  I had to restrain myself to six balls.  If I didn’t have to meet the Hubs at Staples in five minutes I would have done a lot more damage. 

But it’s just a momentary lapse.  A slight bump in the road.  For $15 I got my fix and I know it’s something that will get used very shortly.  Today, I’m back on the woolly wagon.  It’s just a bit sad that I fell off for Lion Brand.  Why couldn’t it have been Noro?


Checking In

February 22, 2011

After I decided to do the 111 in 2011 project and posted about it, I got a little stressed.  111 skeins/balls/units of yarn is a lot of yarn.  Even if you decide to use 111 skeins of bulky yarn in 55 m skeins (not that that had crossed my mind no siree it hadn’t) that still works out to 6105 m to knit up.  Or 6.1 km.  Not far but not really close either.  And since I’ve gone public with it, what if I don’t make my goal?  It’s enough to make a knitter lose sleep.

So, to ease my nerves, I tossed my stash a few weeks ago and pulled out several projects worth of yarn (hats, coats, shawls, sweaters, socks) in various weights and piled them up on my desk.  As incentive.  I still don’t have one empty storage bin but I’m getting close. 

I also pulled out several mill end bags and figured out what to do with them.  Sometime last year I went a little crazy got a great deal on Patons SWS mill ends at my local Zellers.  I bought nine bags.  Maybe 10.  No, definitely nine.  Ok nine that I’m admitting to.  Each bag has five balls of yarn in it.  I used 2/3 of a ball to make a hat.  And the rest of it has sat, silently reproaching me.  So I measured it, caked it and knit a French Market Bag out of five more balls.  To be honest, I’m a little disappointed with the bag.  It’s not as big as I’d have liked it to be (even though I knit the body another 7 inches longer) but that’s my problem.  But, I used up nearly a pound of yarn and I’ll use the bag for something.  And that’s what got the blood flowing.

I knit up a pair of fingerless mitts for me using yarn that’s been kicking around for a few years.  I knit up some dishcloths for the house and cottage.  I’m working through some Loops and Threads  for kids mittens as well.  I blew through four balls of Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Superchunky last month and I’ve finally started that Lopi sweater (#18, Design 1) for the Hubs.

So, in nearly two months, I’ve used up 18 balls/skeins of yarn for a grand total of 1631 m knitted.  Which is 1.6 km.  Which is about the distance from The Money Pit to the highway on-ramp.  Which is exciting.

I’ve got 93 balls left to knit and I’m just getting going.  I’ve got some chunky blankets to make for the cottage, more felted clogs and lots and lots of socks and mittens.  I am finding it kind of empowering to shop from my stash as well.  I have a lot of yarn and most of the time I can make it fit the pattern I want to make.  And if I can’t, well, the pattern is filed for future use when the stash is smaller and I can justify buying more yarn.  I might it at that point.  If I still like it.

And it’s nice to see some space emerging.  No empty storage bins yet but I cleared off a shelf in our spare room closet last night and slowly but surely that giant pile of yarn on my desk is getting smaller.  I also have fewer projects on my needles at any given time and I’m more organized about what I’m making.  But the best part of all of this is the incredible sense of satisfaction I get when I can “x” out the numbers on my count down chart. 

I’ve gone from I think I can to I know I can.  I’ll update again in a month.  And when I hit 5k, I’ll have a little something special planned.


So that was Christmas

January 6, 2011

Christmas is not my best season.  I haven’t liked it for years.  I find it stressful and disappointing and far too busy for my liking.  I wish I could go to sleep November 30th and wake up on January 1.

Christmas lost its allure for me at a young age.  I think was 7 when I realized that my mom’s handwriting looked an awful lot like Santa’s.  And his boots, which left imprints in the ash of our fireplace, were exactly the same size as mine.  And had the same sole.  Also, Santa for some strange reason, liked to leave his presents for us in the linen cupboard…which was accessed regularly by us all and right between my room and my sister’s.  So yeah, Christmas lost a bit of sparkle when I was young.

It became further tarnished when it became obvious I never got what I wanted.  One year, I think I might have been 15, I fell in love with a floor-length black velvet skirt.  Emminently practical for a 15 year old right?  Not so much.  I pined for that skirt.  Never a day went by when I didn’t mention how I would die if I didn’t have that skirt.  I pictured myself floating down the 6 steps separating the bedrooms from the main floor and into the dining room in my fancy new skirt on Christmas Day.  Didn’t matter I didn’t have a top to wear with it.  Didn’t matter that we never dressed for dinner in my house.  And it totally didn’t matter that within seconds of sitting down half my dinner would be in my lap.  No, I wanted, nay I NEEDED that skirt.  Instead I got a gold necklace.  And likely that’s why I don’t wear yellow gold to this day.

I still don’t get great gifts for Christmas.  Mostly this is my fault as I don’t ask for much.  Out of consideration for other people’s finances, I try to keep my present requests under $50.  Which you would think would be plenty of money to buy a nice gift.  Sure, if you like getting towels and sheets every year like the MIL buys me.  This year I requested steak knives.  And lo and behold….eight steak knives.  The Hubs’ family is literal and unimaginative.  If you tell them you want something one year, you’re likely to get it for the next three or so.  I can’t imagine what I’ll do with 24 more steak knives.  Perhaps join a travelling circus or carnival as their new knife thrower?

The SIL enjoys buying us things she picks up on her travels.  I shouldn’t complain as I got a Gucci scarf one year…that’s white and beige.  I’m blonde and fair.  It makes me look dead whatever colour side I choose to wear.  Plus it’s scratchy.  I probably should sell it on eBay so that someone can get some enjoyment out of it.

This year was extra special though.  She brought us all back marble eggs from her trip to Morrocco.  Marble eggs.  I’ll let that one sink in for a bit.  Marble eggs.  I put it next to the sand rose she got us last year.  Sure it’s an interesting conversation piece, but it leaks sand all over my display case and I suspect one day it will just fall apart and I’ll have big mess to clean up. 

Other family members have bought me hideous serving dishes and knicknacks (glass purse anyone?), ugly picture frames and appallingly awful kitchen linens over the years.  Goodwill gets a lot of business from me in early January as you can no doubt imagine.

What kills me is that the Hub’s family knows what I enjoy doing….reading, cooking, knitting, sewing, gardening…yet they refuse to buy things that I will like or use.  I suspect like many people, they buy me gifts they’d like to get or they just buy stuff and don’t care one way or another if I like what I get, my name is checked off a list and they feel good about getting their Christmas shopping done early. 

And the Hubs is no better.  For our first Christmas together he bought me a space heater.  I think I’ve complained about mentioned this before.  He later told me he thought I’d like it because I’m always cold.  I can’t fault him for having a good heart but I can fault him for having poor judgement.  Like this year.  I told him for months I wanted something sparkly.  I even pointed out sparkly things I liked when I saw them. 

Granted I don’t wear a lot of jewelry but I do like it.  And he has ready access to my jewelry box so he can see what I do like and see what ring size I wear.  And, best of all, he knows I could care less if the sparkly stuff is fake.  In fact, I’d prefer fake so that when I lose it, it’s only $29 down the shower drain instead of $329.  Not that I speak from experience or anything.

So even though he was armed with some pretty explicit instructions for what I wanted, I unwrapped a 19 piece set of Pyrex this Christmas.  Under a certain light, yes it does sparkle, but it’s frigging hard to wear around my neck, in my ears or on my wrist.  Thank you my darling husband for giving me more casserole dishes, which I needed, but also thanks for an epic-ly disappointing Christmas gift.

For 2011 I’m taking charge though.  I’ve had it with craptastic gifts.  I’ve started my list early and I’m putting on it all manner of things I want and damn the price.  And unlike previous years, I’m not buying things off this list when I see them so that all I can offer as a gift suggestion is a set of steak knives.  No siree.  I want board games and Ravesburger puzzles and books and yarn (if someone else buys it it doesn’t affect my going cold sheep this year) and pretty, sparkly things that are not cookware.  Of course, I can’t make people buy what I want but a list should help minimize the chance of getting crap.

Same goes with the handmade presents.  This year I killed myself.  I made one pair of felted clogs, three pairs of socks, one shawl, seven Saroyans and two shrugs.  I was knitting since May 2010 for his family.  Not this year though.  Nope.  I will likely still make them something but it’s going to be sewn.  Probably placemats.  Maybe market bags.  Socks for the men, but out of worsted weight yarn so they go fast.  In fact I may dedicate February to making gifts for his family and then I’ll have the rest of the year to knit for me and my family and anyone else I care to make things for. 

And as for being too busy, especially visiting his family.  That will also end.  This past Christmas we started holiday visiting on Dec 21 and it didn’t end until New Year’s.  To be honest, the Hubs will still visit family well into February but I won’t be accompanying him to see those family members.  Don’t like them enough to give up my weekends sitting in their houses listening to them moan about how tough their lives are. 

There is a plan afoot in my family to move our celebration from Dec 24 to Dec 25.  Which will conflict with the Hubs’ family but I don’t care.  This Christmas was the first time in my ENTIRE life I did not see my parents and that really bothered (and still bothers) me.  It’s a new year, a new decade and new traditions are going to start.  Hubs and his family can suck it if they don’t like it. 

Also afoot is a plan for us all (on his side) to stop buying gifts for each other and instead take that money and have an “experience” like meeting up in Vegas in the fall.  This has many benefits.  Yes we’re still spending money but at least we’ll spend it on something we like….travel.  I will not have to feign delight over weird things my SIL brings back from her trips.  I will not have to find places to show off (but not really) said weird things.  We get to hang out together, for a few days, enjoy each other’s company and we’ll always have those memories to fall back on over the years.  Everyone seems to like the idea but now someone (that’d be me) has to organize it.  Sure it’s a lot of work but I’d rather spend my time organizing something fun than knitting the same damn scarf seven times.  Ahem.

Anyway, we’ll see what happens.  I’m hoping to have a more relaxed and restful Christmas season in 2011.  And if it doesn’t work out that way, well my mom always includes a bottle or two of wine in my “stocking” so I can at least self-medicate and blot out the parts of the season that didn’t live up to my expectations.


I had no choice. None at all. Really.

September 27, 2010

Every year I make a present for DH’s family members.  Usually the women only, but sometimes the men.  And every year the list gets longer.  Initally it was just his immediate family.  The next year I added his aunt, her two daughters and another female cousin.  Last year I added his other cousin’s girlfriend.  This year another cousin is dating a guy with three tween daughters so they’re on the list too.

It’s a lot of work, but to be honest, I don’t mind.  Most days.  Pretty much all of them are “knit-worthy” and to be honest, for the ones that aren’t….100% acrylic.  Plus, knitting for so many people is a good stashbuster.  I’ve managed to divest myself of about 50 balls of yarn this holiday cycle and I’m not done yet.  Yay me!

To make my life easier, I make everyone the same thing, although I customize each gift for each person, usually selecting a colour I think/know they’ll like.  I also select the yarn based on how “high maintenance” the recipient is.  People who will hand wash get 100% wool.  People who don’t get mostly acrylic or a wool-acrylic blend.  

I don’t always knit either.  A few years back I sewed aprons.  Which were a huge hit with the MIL and Aunt-in-law but not so much with the younger crowd.  Last year everyone got cowls and it was the reverse….big hit with the young women but not so much with the older ones.  Eh, some days you win some and some days you lose.

Most years though I end up making scarves.  They are quick and easy and everyone needs a scarf.   Plus they are often mindless knitting which is useful for those weekend nights when the hubs and I rent movies.  Or we’re at the cottage and I want to knit but don’t want to think about what I’m knitting.

This Christmas’ offering will be Saroyan for the younger crowd.  I have to say, I really, really, REALLY like this pattern.  Which is a good thing because by the time Dec 25 rolls around I will have made 14 of them.  Not all for the Hubs’ family but mostly for them.  So far I’ve made the ones for the tween’s out of Loops and Threads from Michaels.  It’s a good yarn to use for kids (or adults who don’t handwash) and after a cycle in the washer and dryer it’s actually quite soft.  One scarf done to pattern uses up less than a ball and two balls will easily make a longer Saroyan and a slouchy hat. 

The one for the SIL came from the stash.  It’s Fleece Artist’s Ottawa which is discontinued.  I can see why since the yarn was a pain to knit with, sometimes thick and sometimes so think I am worried about the strength of the fabric.  But it’s done and I’m not ripping it back.  The SIL is actually pretty careful with her knitted things and I like to knit for her since she’s very appreciative.

One cousin will be getting a Saroyan made from Misti Alpaca Tonos in Atlantic.  I have about half a skein left and probably could have used up both but honestly it’s like knitting with buttah and I wanted to keep some for myself.  What I’ll do with half a skein is beyond me.  Maybe make a swatch and just pet it it’s so soft.  Or maybe I’ll add it to the cat’s Kitty Pi stash that will eventually become a bed for the princess next year.

The remaining two Saroyans were to be knit out of MadelineTosh Eyre.  I got a great deal from Eat.Sleep.Knit when they were selling off their stock and figured two skeins would be enough.  Afterall, at 218m I’d just squeak by.  Sadly no.  I got through the increase section of the first Eyre Saroyan and it took 3/4 of the skein.  No way was I going to get 16 more repeats out of the remaining yarn.  No way.  Rip rip rip and back I went to Eat.Sleep.Knit and lo and behold they were sold out of Eyre.  Completely.  And every other yarn store on the MadelineTosh website was sold out too.  Or didn’t carry Eyre.  Or didn’t carry the right colourways.  Grrrr.

I suppose I could have called some of the stores and asked if they could get the colours.  Or posted on Ravelry in the ISO forum.  But that’s a lot of work and I’m intrinsically lazy.  Stash diving was also an option but I don’t wear orange or the bright blue that these two cousins do.  Maybe I could have selected another colour from my stash but why spend hours knitting people things if they won’t wear them because they don’t like the colour?  Anyway, who wants to lug out tote bin after tote bin to look through in the wee small hours of the night?

So I think you’ll agree that I had no choice but to go online (it was after midnight when I discovered I wouldn’t have enough yarn) and order more.  Really I had no choice at all.  None whatsoever.  That’s my story.  And I’m sticking to it.

As for the Eyre, even though none of it is my colour, I think it will make a nice pair of Fiddlehead Mittens.  For me.