Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Where has the time gone?

I can't believe it's nearly the end of December - I have no earthly idea where the last two weeks have gone. My husband's birthday was less than a week before Christmas, so we did stuff to celebrate it. Then there was Christmas itself, with all its attendant baking and gifting and socializing. For a minute there, I think I had something to do on 5 consecutive evenings. Oof.

I have done a little knitting since the last time I posted. I've made some progress on the Vilai socks, having turned the heel and nearly finished the gusset decreases. I have also made a mistake on these socks - I didn't read the pattern correctly and left out a chart repeat on the leg. By the time I realized why the leg looked a little short, I'd already gotten halfway through the heel flap and there was no way in hell I was going to rip back and potentially make a mess of all those yarnovers and twisted stitches in the leg. Nope. It would stay as it was. And I have short legs, anyway. Custom fit. That's me.

By the time Christmas Eve arrived, I'd done all I could do and was ready for some relaxing time with both our families. As we got on the road to make the 4-hour drive to my hometown, it was nearly dark, so there was no knitting in the car. But once we got settled in at Mom's house, I decided it would be fun to start an Ishbel with the gorgeous silk yarn I bought while I was on vacation last summer. The yarn is Lake Effect, a 100% tussah silk single-ply yarn in the Leelanau Sunset colorway. My understanding is that it is only available at the Thistledown Shoppe in Suttons Bay, Michigan, and was dyed by a local dyer. I'd been looking for an appropriate pattern to highlight the beautiful colors and finally decided that Ishbel was the way to go since it had a nice stockinette section and a fairly simple lace pattern that would not be too busy with the color changes in the yarn.

On Christmas Day, we had breakfast with Mom, then set out to meet my husband's family in Brown County, Indiana, a three-ish hour drive from Fort Wayne. I'm not quite sure where all the time went, but I can recall chilling out around the fireplace with some of my sisters-in-law and some of the nieces, watching the younger kids open their stockings (the mice were a big hit and there were requests for more!) and participating in the grown-ups' white elephant gift exchange. We scored a Sopranos trivia game and cookbook (that I think we forgot to bring home with us), and were able to give away a 3-foot tall ceramic piggy bank (a pig dressed as a firefighter who came to be called Firepig). A couple nephews contemplated what might happen if they tossed it into the fire. A couple nieces explored the possibility of turning it into some kind of garden statuary/fountain/scarecrow. Whatever they do, it's alright by me. More than one person found it to be a little creepy. I'm just glad my husband didn't steal it back and bring it home.

The day after Christmas was nice and relaxing and it seemed like all I did was hang out and knit. By the time I was ready to call it a day, I only had something like 6 rows to do and the Ishbel would be finished. I have no idea how I did so much so fast. The next morning, on the way back home to Louisville, I finished up the last bit, and completed the bind-off less than 5 minutes before we got home. It was pretty exciting to have a finished project so quickly. I even got it blocked the same evening and it was ready for me when I got home from work tonight! I think it came out well.

Next time, I think I'll show off the pretty little crocheted things that one of my Japanese aunts made for me when I was a baby, and have a little end of year recap. Until then, Friends.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Making Mischief

Since the last time I posted, I've been busy knitting up lots of little Mousies - a mischief of mousies, in fact, which is what a group of mice is called. Like a parliament of owls or a murder of crows. Anyway, my mother-in-law asked if I'd make a few for my nieces' and nephews' stockings, so I've been knitting like mad for the last week or so. I'm not sure which kids will get these mice (there are 24 nieces & nephews), but I'm half tempted to knit up a few more than she asked for, so she can choose from among them. They've really turned out to be the cutest little things - I especially like the ones I made out of variegated yarn. The stripes add personality, I think. I've been able to make each mouse in about 3 hours, cutting two hours off the time it took me to make the first one.

I've also made some progress on my Vilai socks, which I've been doing on my commutes to and from work. The stitch pattern is easy to learn, so I've been able to make quick work of the first chart repeat. I'm also loving how the semisolid yarn is creating a nice marbled effect through all the yarn overs and twisted stitches. Shibuisock is one of my favorite yarns! I expect I'll be turning the heel by the end of the week, and if I'm lucky, I'll have the pair finished in time to give to my mother for Christmas. I think she'll like them - I just hope she isn't tired of purply-blues, since the last pair of socks I gave her were a similar color.

In other news, I received some very good news over the weekend: I got my scores back from my NCIDQ exam, which showed that I passed! Finally! I guess the third time really is the charm. Or maybe my having actually ordered the study materials and preparing for the test had something to do with the results. Whatever it was, I'm thrilled to have passed and can be a certified professional in my field. It's pretty exciting!

Well, that's all I have for tonight. Goodnight, Friends.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

I've finished a few things!

It's true. For a minute there, I was feeling like I'd couldn't seem to complete a project, but all of a sudden, my WIPs count has fallen and my FO count has climbed. I'd say it was a Christmas miracle, but it's still only the 8th of December, so there are still 17 days left for that.

The first finished object was the little stuffed mouse. It's so cute! I even did the X's for the eyes, which made all the difference. He can't see that shortbread cookie he's eating, but he could probably smell it.

I also finished my Glacier gloves and I'm very happy with them. So happy, in fact, that I think I won't wear them this winter so that I can enter them in next year's State Fair. It's never too early to start plotting my strategy to dominate at the fair.

I also finished my intarsia-in-the-round socks. What was most surprising about finishing these socks is that it only took me a few hours to do it. All that agonizing! And for what? The three hours or so it took until I ran out of one of the colors, knit an inch of ribbing, and bound off. It might have been another hour to weave in all the ends, but it went much faster than I expected. I really could have finished these months ago. I don't know why I felt like I needed to put them off for so long. I'm sure there's a lesson in here somewhere, but damn if I know what it is.

Anyway, with getting so many things finished last weekend, I was able to cast on for a pair of socks. I wanted to have some commuting knitting, something casual that I didn't have to think too hard about. But it had to have an interesting stitch pattern and look good with a semi-solid yarn, so I cast on Vilai, one of CookieA's patterns from Sock Innovation. I'm using Shibui Sock, which is one of my favorite sock yarns. I love the color - a nice periwinkle blue I picked up while I was on vacation this summer. It's such a nice, squishy yarn! The cuff is knitting up nicely, so I hope I can get some photos during the day tomorrow.

Well, that's all I have for tonight. Next time I hope I have some sock progress to show off, as well as some Christmas knitting. Until then, Friends.