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What I want for Christmas

As we do during this time of year my holiday to do list is frequently running through my head:

Write the letter.

Send the cards.

Finish the shopping.

Wrap the gifts.

Decorate.

What gifts am I making for people – can I get them done – should I even try?

It’s on a continuous loop in my head. Each year I swear I’m not going to fall into the crafting trap. But then I argue with myself that it would save money. I have the patterns! I have the supplies!

But what I really want for Christmas is a calm holiday. Full of crafting that is not also full of stress due to a looming deadline. Just happy stitching to celebrate and enjoy the holiday season like I see in so many of the Instagram photos and blog posts I admire.

And I want to spend the new year stitching things that reduce the supply inventory, make room in the stash closet and end up being used by someone who really needs or wants the finished product.

Good luck to me and good luck to all of us in search of crafting peace this holiday season. I wish you just enough to do to satisfy the itch to create.

Advent – I win

I spent the last two weeks sewing together 24 felt ornaments and beading them with very small beads. I then moved on to embroidering 24 numbers on little felt strips.

I enjoyed this because I sat in my sun room with the natural late fall light falling in the windows. My favorite movies played on a secondhand TV I recently acquired. Periodically the VCR in the TV, which no longer has a door, would make a sound as if it were trying to eject a non-existent VHS tape. I forgot what that was called and almost typed DVD. This would have been more climactic if it made the noise each time I completed an ornament.

Regular readers of this blog or my life will know that I am often running right up to a deadline with a major project like a hand-sewn Advent Calendar. However, due to a frantic sewing session on Friday, this calendar was completed well ahead of the Dec. 1 deadline. The best thing about it though is that Niece 1 helped put on the Velcro and asked me to teach her to sew, and Niece 2 wanted to help me sew on the numbers. She is three but promised she would be careful. Then she proceeded to try to cut one of the non-replaceable felt strips in half.

In the midst of a large project like this you have moments of wondering is it all worth it? Will people appreciate this gift I worked so hard to create? Will I actually go blind sewing 30 sequins on this star? These are all valid questions, but the true reward was not completing the project, although I was probably too proud of myself for doing it. It gave me all the good holiday feels to spend time with those two girls I love so much and have them share in the family tradition of taking on projects that are too large when there are not quite enough days left to finish them without causing permanent bodily damage.

Knitting makes me happy  

Friend of the blog Kristen shared this article  showing scientific proof that knitting makes you feel good. 

Unless you’re currently picking up the dropped stitches of a Fair Isle sweater  or frogging a lace project you know in your heart this is true. 

But now science says so and a group of knitters in Australia have knit a brain in support of our craft causing people to perk up. Russell Crowe uses his knitting for anger management. 

And we’ve all seen this shirt:

  
People don’t understand how often knitting saves lives. I often hear comments that knitting is for grannies. When you think of your traditional granny don’t they usually seem calm and a little high on chocolate chip cookie fumes? That they’re willing to share?!?!?

Knitting. 

It’s just a shame the yarn shopping isn’t covered by insurance. 

What up, yo?

That’s my new thing for spring, saying what up, yo? Welcome to 1995.

Anyway, I made this photo slideshow and I wanted to see if I could put it on my blog so here goes:

Boston

I’m teaching news editing and I want these peeps to learn to make a slideshow and insert it in some web platforms and whatnot. I think I may have been successful.

Also, it’s apparent I get the urge to blog in March. And then it goes away until the following March. To make up for that, here’s a picture of some knitting that looks like a muppet. You’re welcome.

2014-02-17 19.48.41And no. I’m not knitting a muppet.

Until next March … Smith out.

I now have things done. Get ready.

In recent times Ann Shayne of Mason-Dixon Knitting (See her book review here) implemented 15-minute blogging on her site. The Mason-Dixon posts have increased in frequency. This is good news for me as I love their blog. So, in an effort to increase my own pathetic blog efforts, I am doing the same.

When last we met I lamented Camp Loopy, a summer program sponsored by an online yarn shop, that encourages knitters to do three projects over three months. I had finished zero projects at that time. Not so any longer my friends. Witness the Color Affection and Raglan sweater.

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2012-10-13 00.05.42

The color affection is a shawl. The raglan sweater is a raglan sweater. Both were knit with sock yarn. The Loopy Eye, camp sponsor, excels at sock yarn. These were the June and July projects respectively. (We will not discuss when these projects were completed.) The August project still bides its time in a bag waiting for its number to be called. Patience grasshopper.

Do you have any failures turned successes you’d like to report? Original deadlines will not be shared with the public.

And time’s up!

The failed progress of Camp Loopy and a book review

For the last two summers I have participated – sort of – in Camp Loopy. It is a knitting camp sponsored by yarn company, The Loopy Ewe. Basically, they create rules you have to follow in knitting three projects over three months. It is a good way for them to get people to buy yarn and a good way for people to finish three projects during the summer. There are three deadlines. This is the problem.

Last summer the extent of my participation was selecting patterns and buying yarn – yarn that is still in my stash I might add. This summer I selected the patterns, bought the yarn and actually started the projects but I have made zero deadlines. One Color Affection shawl is three-quarters of the way done because I moved on to the second month’s project. I am nearly to the point of separating for the armholes of a Radian Yoke sweater three days after its deadline. And I have the supplies ready to start a Catkin in the colorway of the sweater of this link. I guess there is some hope I might finish this but it’s doubtful. I would like to wear the Radian Yoke at least once before the snow flies. It’s a short-sleeved sweater. I am very disappointed in this project, probably more than I should be. And probably because I have a sweater, an afghan and two scarves waiting to be finished. And never mind the yarn shop’s worth of yarn that I am apparently storing for some yarn apocalypse. Do not worry people. If it comes, I will be ready. There’s also the binder of projects I REALLY want to knit that have received no love beyond getting their own binder. While I have enjoyed working on the Loopy projects I had hoped to whittle down the stash this summer but that hasn’t happened. Maybe next year.

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Photo from annshayne.com

In cheerier news, I recently finished Bowling Avenue by Ann Shayne of Mason-Dixon Knitting. She writes about a woman who returns home to Nashville to sell her dead sister’s house and then gets caught up in the Nashville flood. It has a lot of humor, sympathetic characters and plenty of knitting. And the writing is pretty good especially for a first effort. Shayne began writing the novel a year or two ago and self-published it. She is well-known in the knitting community and I can’t help but think book sales received a boost from the loyal knitters, but it was worth my money. I was sorry to leave the world she created.

Socks on Parade

Ahoy, my lovelies. We’re about to embark on a voyage to Sock Island and back. Or Sock Hill or Sock Oblivion. Sock Seattle – wherever you want to go with Sock attached to it.

If you are one of the two readers of this blog you are aware that one of my goals for 2012 was to knit more socks. And I have accomplished that in a big way people. Since the first of the year I have finished five pairs of socks. Yes! I am the champion. I nearly have enough handknit socks to wear one every day of the week. Since my state has been like living on the surface of the Sun this summer I have not worn many socks since March (?) but I could if I wanted to and that’s what counts. Let the parade begin.

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This is the most recently completed addition to the Smith Sock Family but it is destined for adoption. It was crafted for one of my students who convincingly begged for a pair. Done. The pattern comes from the Big Book of Socks by Kathleen Taylor and was the first fancy sock pattern I’ve tackled. The book is truly big and chocked full of sock patterns in various, sizes, colors and styles from kid to Christmas. I enjoyed knitting this pattern. The ribbed effect it produces is very easy on the eyes and very easy to produce. Kathleen also wrote clear instructions for the short-row heel which I finally understand even though I took a short-row heel class at the much-revered Sock Summit last year in Portland. I will be making more socks from this book. She has several patterns for worsted weight socks which I guess would work with boots or the Birkenstock. It seems like they would be thick for the regular shoe. I’m sure Kathleen knows best.

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Here are some lovely tweed socks made with Knitpicks Essential Tweed in a colorway that appears to be burgundy. These were made using the Yarn Harlot’s Basic Sock Recipe from her book Knitting Rules. I have made several socks using her very detailed instructions and I like them. I figured out the ideal number of stitches to cast on and my socks now fit like a dream. I love her recipe because she tells you how to fit the socks to your feet. Very helpful. I loved working with this yarn and have enough leftover for either another pair of socks, an American Girl something or a festive addition to the heel, toe and cuff of a subsequent pair. That pattern is also from the Big Book, tra la.

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These were made from some Paton’s self-striping yarn. I love the colors and pattern. I wasn’t so sure at first but these are probably my first or second favorite socks. This is the pair that finally had the right number of stitches to fit and feel like they were going to stay up. I am excited to wear these once the ball of fire cools down a little.

These are more socks from the Harlot’s basic recipe – I was on a roll. The yarn is more from our friends at Knitpicks. This is  Felici in Marsh or something. I think this colorway has been discontinued. They do that frequently with the Felici yarn so now if I like it I buy it. Fall into the consumerism trap much? Yes, yes I do.

My current sock project is a selection from my Yarn of the Month Club. I have ripped it out twice. Once I screwed up the pattern, the second time the sock was just huge so I’ve gone down a needle size. I was very impressed with the pattern (the little I knit of it) and proud of how well I knit it. Photos to come! It’s just a baby right now.

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