Friday, June 29, 2007

Baby Love and Christmas in July

Tomorrow my mom and I are going to a baby shower for her friend's daughter, who used to baby-sit me. The top picture is a corner of the blanket I made, the Estonian Lullaby pattern from Fiber Trends. I also made a baby bonnet and booties and a sweater (the sweater is going to be from my mom), but my computer and/or camera is being weird and won't load the pictures.
I am so close to finishing the Treeline Striped Cardigan from the Purl Bee (although I may need to run to Knit New London, my new favorite knitting store, for one more skein of Manos del Uruguay wool in quail), but the cat has bogarted it and doesn't seem to have any intentions of giving it up. I don't have the heart to move him so I'll work on my grandfather's Classic Socks (a birthday present) for now.
This brings me to my next idea. For the past few Christmases (and birthdays, and this past Mother's Day, and most other gift-giving occasions) I've driven myself crazy with making presents for people. Don't get me wrong, I really enjoy making the presents, I think it is more meaningful and they appreciate my gifts, it's usually cheaper than buying presents and I hate the mall. I have great reasons for making presents. It's the methodology that's questionable. I'm always up late the night before the Big Day, up early that morning, and hidden away during most of the day (sometimes even during the celebration) trying to finish presents. Every year I say, "It's going to be different this year," without actually doing much to change anything. Last year I did a little bit more planning, which was good, but I still gave people half a pair of socks (not very useful) and partially knitted bits still on the needles (which led to jokes like, "So I have to finish it myself?") and then on Christmas I spent the rest of the day (and two weeks afterward) finishing them. Not fun.
I read somewhere that Victorian women also made all of their Christmas presents, but they realized how much time it would take and so they started in July. That's what I'm doing this year. This makes sense on so many levels: I have eight birthdays between now and December 25 to make presents for on top of Christmas presents, I'll be living at home in the fall and so knitting presents for my mom and dad would be tricky and involve lots of hiding in my room, it will save me money at Christmas by spreading out the spending, I'll have time to fix mistakes and block and even wrap the presents. My plan is to only work on these presents for the month of July, except for Saturday and Sunday (I'll be at home, but I'll still try to work on presents for those I don't live with) and the last week of July. That's our family vacation, and nearly everyone I'm making presents for will be there. So I'll push to get most of it done before then, and as a reward I'm thinking I will let myself order the yarn for one of the cute summer tops in the summer issue of Interweave Knits (I have priced out several of them with KnitPicks yarn...very affordable, very dangerous...)
Progress so far: two birthday presents on the needles, and I've purchased yarn for another present. I have also planned out most of my other presents. Christmas in July will be fun...right?

Friday, June 1, 2007

She spins and knits

The first yarn is unknown pencil roving, probably about 4 oz, that I spun and then plied on my drop spindle (was that ever tedious). The second is the first 2 oz of Corriedale that you might recognize from the previous post from The Sheep Shed that I got at the New Hampshire Sheep and Wool Festival in the "Summer Fields" colorway. I still have two more ounces to spin. I was going to ply it, but I'm kind of in love with the single and it's pretty thick (in some places; it's spun thick-and-thin, not purposely. oh, the joys of beginning spinning ;)
Then we have the re-knit Manos del Uruguay hat. I re-knit it because I used different needles than the pattern suggested, and of course it didn't turn out the way I wanted. I am thoroughly impressed with my two color pompom (no one tells you how to do that; it took me three or four tries).
Pattern: Kim's Hats, from Last Minute Knitted Gifts (on the third page of the pattern, the last hat on the right is my hat, in the same two colors even. I had a skein of the blue on hand and I loved the contrast with the tomato-y red)
Yarn: Manos del Uruguay, one skein light blue and maybe 25 yards of the tomato-y red
Source: Patternworks Yarn Shop (the blue was snagged at the giant summer sale a few years ago)
Needles: Addi Turbo Size 9 16" circular, Clover Bamboo Size 9 dpns
Modifications: None

On a humbler note, remember how excited I was that my Manos stashing finally paid off in the form of the Treeline Striped Cardigan? Well, I have been smited for my hubris. I only had three skeins of the light brown, not four (although I could swear that I had a fourth--however, in my Manos stash there is a charcoal grey that sometimes gets confused for the brown--since they're hand-dyed). I have finished both sleeves and the body, and I just knit the body and sleeves together (I've learned some new techniques and the construction is very clever) and I have run out of the brown. I went to the small but fabulous Pearl's Yarn Shop in downtown Manchester today to get more, but my particular brown was nowhere in sight. I'll check the Elegant Ewe and there's always the Internet, but I swear this is the last time I gloat about having enough yarn or about my stashing actually being productive. It's a bad habit and I'm going to quit.
For a happy ending, the trip to Pearl's was very productive. I picked up Fiber Trends' Estonian Lullabies baby blanket pattern and some Dreambaby DK in a lovely light green. I'm making it for my mom's friend's daughter, who used to babysit me. The shower is June 30th, so I'm getting started on it tonight.