Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 Creative Recap

And now it's time for the annual creative recap. This year I knit a lot. I didn't realize how much until I took this screencap of my ravelry project page. I posted up 20 projects. And as with every year, not every project made it up. This year I made 9 pairs of socks, 4 sweaters (which included a Dad sized sweater and a fingering weight sweater), 2 shawls, 2 infinity scarves, 1 regular scarf, 1 hat, and 1 ornament. There is a pretty good chance that I knit a half million stitches this year. (Actually, I know that I did. Most of what I knit gets partially ripped multiple times before it is completed.)

As for design work, I put out the companion shawl to Celestarium, the Southern Skies. And then I released Lit Knits. I still can't believe that the book is finished.

So what will this next year hold? Well, I had a look at my stash today, and it looks like I need to knit up a lot more socks. I'm definitely not keeping up with my sock yarn acquisitions. I also have a few designs in the works. But after finishing the book, I think this year will be more about selfish knitting.

What are your guys' knitting plans for the upcoming year? And do you have a particular weight of yarn that you can't keep up with?

Monday, December 30, 2013

Pinnacles Or The Lonely Mountain

On the 29th was my 4th blog anniversary. For the last three years, I've gone to Green Planet Yarn. Like many great traditions, it ended up broken, but for good reason. Rachael invited me to go hike at Pinnacles National Park, which was a tough offer to pass up. The weather was perfect. This area gets pretty hot, so it's better to go in winter. But it's also tough when it is wet. This has been the driest year in California since records have been taken. So although we need more rain, it has been a great hiking year.

It should be noted that there are many trails and loops. But they are not for a casual hiker. We did the 8 mile loop, which ended up being closer to 10 miles since we did some exploring. But you can't beat the view. This is where we had lunch. Although it is difficult to see in the picture, just past my feet is a steep cliff.

Then there was the trail that was called "Steep And Narrow." It's not a misnomer. There were parts where the rocks came out so far that you had to hike leaning 45 degrees to get past.
I stole this from Rachael. Rarely do we get a picture of the both of us on an adventure.

There are California Condors that live in the area. They are an endangered bird, and according to Rachael, a big deal for bird watchers. We did see some soaring above us later on in the hike. I wish we had gotten to see them a little closer.
As we hiked on, we noticed that some of the rocks had pretty distinct forms. This one looked like Smaug the dragon to me. The left side has a bit of a snout and nostril. And it has a wicked looking smile. It's neck arches over the top of the main rock.

But, by far, the neatest part of the hike was where we got to go through a cave. Bear Gulch was closed, so we went through the Balconies cave. I accidentally took a picture while I was fiddling with the flashlight. Here's what the inside of a cave looks like.

Once you emerge from the darkness, you eventually end up in an area where giant boulders have wedged themselves in fissures of the mountain. They kind of reminded me of dragon eggs. Both Rachael and I decided that it would be a terrible place to be if there was an earthquake. Also, we felt a bit like we were in Lord of the Rings. Possibly the Mines of Moria.

When we left the cave area, we realized that we had probably been under that dragon looking mountain from earlier. So perhaps Smaug is actually a girl and we were in the Lonely Mountain. It was by far the neatest hike I'd ever been in. I'm looking forward to hiking it again.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

The Sock Hop

So I managed to finish my Vintage Christmas socks in time for Christmas Eve. (I wore my Smaug socks on Christmas day when we all went out to see the second Hobbit movie.) I'm quite pleased with how they turned out. Although I managed to get a pink blotch on them on the first washing because they touched the Smaug socks. Mum says it doesn't look that bad. I think I was more upset because they were fresh off the needles. I also think that I will start washing the Smaugs by themselves. They had been doing great and not leaking dye for many hand washings. Then I threw them in the machine (because they are superwash) and promptly dyed my grey underwear into a delightful hue of pink. They've been unpredictable since then. At least the socks haven't gotten dull with the loss of dye.

But back to the Vintage Christmas socks. Scooter insisted in helping out again during the photoshoot. Recently he has insisted in being in all the frames during photoshoots. I think that he doesn't like it when he isn't the center of attention.
Pay attention to me human

In the background of the photos, you can see that my brother got me a gift this year. The real surprise was that he managed to spell my name correctly this year. We don't really do gifts, but in 2011 he got me one... and spelled my name wrong. He did a better wrapping job that you see in the picture, but since he got me a game that we both wanted to play, we unwrapped it before Christmas, played, then he rewrapped it.

In other knitting news, I've cast on a new pair of socks. It's another pair of Vanilla socks in Canon Hand Dyes color Days Of Wine And Roses. I thought it would be nice to get a pair done for Valentines Day. I've been addicted to making Vanilla socks. I don't know how long this will last, but I'm not one to stop a knitting streak.

What has everyone been working on now that the holiday knitting is over. (Or are you guys still trying to finish holiday knitting?)

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Operation Sock Drawer

I've been listening to the Knitmore Girls Podcast and was inspired by their series called Operation Sock Drawer. The idea is to pump up your sock drawer with more socks. I don't actually have my socks in a drawer. I have them out in the open so I can enjoy them. They usually reside in my book case next to my sock pattern books.

From left to right, on the top row are 3 pairs of Velomeisters, Sleepy Hollow Socks, 2 pairs of Leyburns
Middle Row has TARDIS socks, Denature, Smaug socks, Free Bees, and 2 pairs of Any Gauge Ribbed Socks
Bottom row has Vanilla Latte, Skyp, Pomatomas, and the last two were knit for me by Tyler. They are Skew and Rivendell

It's taken me so long to post about the socks that I've actually finished another pair. Here is my We're All Mad In Here vanilla socks. I took extra care to get the stripes to line up well around the heel. (It required a lot of ripping and some really good notes to myself.)

Scooter decided to help out when I was taking pictures. He has an uncanny ability to walk into the frame when you are trying to take a picture.

I had brought out a little Cheshire Cat to add to the photo. Scooter decided that it was a comfy pillow. He's pretty silly. At the moment, he is asleep with his head on my foot and he is snoring.

I've already started my next pair of socks. This yarn is Vintage Christmas from Canon Hand Dyes. It will be another pair of vanilla socks. I'm hoping that I'll be able to finish the pair in time to wear on the 24th. It could happen, if I could stop being such a perfectionist about everything. I plan on wearing my Smaug socks on the 25th when we go see the second Hobbit movie.

Is anyone else working on their Operation Sock Drawer?

Friday, December 13, 2013

Operation Christmas Tree

We have a Christmas tree! Why is this a big deal? Because this is the first tree I have ever had. Growing up, we didn't really do Christmas. No tree, no presents, no lights. I was ok with a lot of that, except for the tree part. I've always wanted a tree. Because we've never had a tree, we don't really have any ornaments, or more importantly, a tree topper. I have a collection of lights from when I used to run shows. It was a great way to light an area without it being too bright. And I talked my Dad into helping me string cranberries and popcorn. But since I'm a knitter, I decided to knit up the tree topper.

I used the Stjärna pattern as a starting point. But I made some mods to make it fit on top of the tree. The star is made in two halves, so I used Judy's Magic Cast On (Which I learned specifically for this project. It's a way easy cast on. I should have tried it out sooner.) After completing the first side of the star, I put 2 stitches before and 2 stitches after the original cast on on a stitch holder. Then I provisionally cast on 4 stitches to make up for the "missing" 4 stitches. After finishing the second side of the star, I stuffed it then picked up the 8 held stitches, plus 2 extra stitches on either side of the held stitches. 

I then knit a tube the length of the star. On the last round, I k2tog all the way around, then threaded the yarn through the remaining 5 stitches and cinched it tight.

The toughest part was shoving the tube into the star. I had pulled the yarn at the end of the tube into the star. If I had been a little wiser, I would have threaded the yarn at the end of the tube into the top of the star and used it to help me inside our the tube. Eventually I got it.

Tada! A star on top of the tree. (I did put a little plastic on top of the tree to keep sap from touching the yarn.) I've been enjoying it each night.
Even Scooter has his own stocking.

So does anyone else have any yarn/ knitting/ fiber craft decorations on their tree? Any suggestions? I've got a thread started up on the Bear Ears rav group and I'd love to see pictures or pattern suggestions.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013


Dad's birthday has come and gone, so he now has the sweater. I asked for a quick photo shoot today and we took only two pictures... total. One of the front.

And one of the back. I'm glad to have such an awesome Dad to knit for. (For the record, he is completely knit-worthy. Every knitted gift has been well used.)
The only mod I made to this pattern was to tack down the collar rather than install toggles. To help keep the tension off of one point in the collar, I tacked down both sides and across the top of where I wanted it to attach. The yarn is Naturally Mainlander Aran in color 862 and the pattern is Brownstone.

Meanwhile on the Canon Hand Dyes KAL front, I think I have finally nailed down a stockinette sock that fits. Usually my gauge is really loose. (Like a 56 stitch sock with size 0 needles loose.) I had noticed that my gauge has been tightening up recently (not sure why) so I cast on 60 stitches for the sock. I figured that would be enough ease. I knit the whole leg and turned the heel, started the gusset when I finally decided that it really was too tight, so rip, rip, rip. Then I cast on 64 stitches (much better), turned the heel, started the gusset, and decided that the stripes could match up a bit better, so rip, rip, rip. Then I put in the full gusset, and realized that I had reversed my preferred placement of the decreases. Rather than rip (because it was getting really old at this point) I dropped down and made all the k2togs into ssks and vice versa. I think I have finally got a sock that looks and fits great. Hopefully when i get to the second one, it goes a bit more smoothly. (Again, this is why I don't do two at a time socks.)

Has anyone else been ripping more than they've been knitting recently?
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