Sunday, December 23, 2007

Gift knitting and giving underway

Okay, there are 2 days left til Christmas. Am I done with my shopping? No. Did I participate in decorating our tree? No. Have I wrapped any presents? No. But I have been doing some great gift knitting!

I got to present my SO with his gift this morning after our trail run:

Pattern: Log Cabin Socks from Handknit Holidays
Yarn: Cascade Pastaza, 2.5 skeins
Needles: bamboo size 6 dpns
Discussion: I loved every minute of making these socks (except for when I messed up the start of the second sock and didn't notice it until 25 rows into it - yes, I ripped it out and corrected my mistake). I think I need a pair of them myself. The pattern was so fun, the yarn was awesome, and making socks on size 6 needles is so speedy! (Bonus: Somehow, I did not end up with a hole when doing the gusset! Woot! First time for that!) These were great. I was so excited to give them to him this morning. To find out what size to make them, I ended up calling Road Runner Sports. I knew that he had ordered shoes from them recently, so I just told the customer service rep that I was knitting him a pair of socks and needed to know his shoe size. How often do they get a phone call like that? Anyway, they fit great and I really hope that he'll enjoy wearing them while lounging around at home, watching "Don't Forget the Lyrics" or reading a book.

For those of you who have not knit these socks yet, get crackin!

Next up is a gift I haven't delivered yet but the recipient doesn't read my blog so I can write about it:

Pattern: Candy Stripes Kerchief from Interweave Knits Holiday Gifts 2007 issue
Yarn: Cascade Baby Alpaca Chunky
Needles: Clover size 9 circulars
Discussion: I wasn't impressed by this when I saw it in the mag, but then I saw one at a yarn shop nearby and liked it a whole lot more. They made mods for the bulkier yarn, so I got a copy of those when I bought the yarn. The increases were done at a different frequency and the stitch count was lower. This yarn is to die for - so soft. And I like the color combination. I tried to put 2 other colors together so I wouldn't be copying the shop model completely, but I just like the pink and red the best. What the hell - imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right?

I'm going to call my friend and see if she'd like to get together for dinner with Hayden and me tonight (Mike is going to a football game), and I can give it to her then. I wanted to give it to her earlier because she's been a little sad lately (boy issues), but I didn't get it done in time.

I've got 1 gift left on the needles and one I'm thinking about doing for my grandmother. She's been having some health problems lately and the Walgreens gift card I bought her last night (inspired by the suggestion from my mother) doesn't feel like enough. I'm thinking I have yarn in my stash that'll make a good Huckleberry Ascot, again from the IK Holiday Gifts issue. We'll see. I still have 2 days and some car time on Christmas day left, right?

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Oh sh!t

The new Magknits is up. (Maybe it's been up for a while, but I just noticed it. I've been on Ravelry too much to notice what's going on on any other sites lately.) And I think Rosy would make a perfect Christmas gift for someone. Can I do it? Rosy, Ice Queen, Candy Stripes Kerchief (although that should be finished this afternoon), and another gift to be blogged about at a later date???

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Tree Jacket (and another hat, and another gift)

Finally, Tree Jacket pictures:

Pattern: Tree Jacket by the Zephyr girls, smallest size
Yarn: Rowan Kid Classic, 6 skeins (I think)
Needles: Denise interchangeable size 7 for garter stitch, 8 for stockinette
Discussion: Another winner from the Zephyr girls! I love this sweater. It was so easy and quick and incredibly cute. I've worn it 4 times since last weekend. And of course the yarn is to die for. I think if someone told me that I had to choose one yarn to knit with from here on out, it'd be Kid Classic. I did my Greek Pullover last year out of this (although I don't wear that much because I was told I flash everyone when I bend over). Someone on Ravelry did their Gathered Pullover out of it, and I'm seriously thinking of copying (unless I get the yarn I put on my Christmas list, Knitpicks Swish DK). It's the best yarn EVER.

Next up is another hat for another therapist:

Pattern: You Don't Know Our Women hat, found on Ravelry
Yarn: something out of my stash, definitely Rowan, maybe Rowanspun Bulky
Needles: Inox circulars (and dpns) size 10.5
Discussion: I like the final product, but I didn't like the making of this hat as much as I did the first one. The cables felt really tight. I omitted the last 7 rows the pattern called for before starting the decreases because I felt like it was getting too big. Good thing - it fits perfectly now. It would've been a Mushmouth hat if I had done those last 7 rows. I surprisingly like the way it looks on me.

I usually don't like myself in hats, but I think since my hair is a bit longer now, it works better. But it's not for me, so if I want one, I'll have to do this pattern again. Not a big deal - it was over and done before I knew it.

I have 2 gifts still on the needles, one I hope to finish tonight. Unfortunately, I've added yet another gift to the list. I didn't know the new Knitty was up until 2 days ago, and I fell in love with the Ice Queen. I bought a skein of Rowan Kidsilk Shimmer yesterday and hope to start it week - actually, I MUST start it this week since Christmas is 10 days away! After that, hopefully I'll be satisfied with all of handmade gift efforts and stop the insanity.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

3 FOs

I finally got around to charging the batteries in my camera, so here are some of my latest FOs:

Pattern: Liesel (found on Ravelry)
Yarn: Brown Sheep Nature Spun Worsted, 1 skein
Needles: Size 7
Discussion: This scarf is for Hayden's aide at school. She always wears pink and/or brown, so I think she's really like this. The pattern is great - not tough, but not "idiot" enough to do while watching something really important on TV, like A Shot at Love with Tila Tequila. (Finale is on next week!!! Go Dani!!!) I'd definitely use this pattern again. The yarn came out of my stash, and I had only 1 ball in this color. I had no idea how long of a scarf I was going to get with 1 ball, but I took a risk and went with it anyway. I blocked the hell out of it and got it to 54". Pretty perfect, I'd say.

(Wow, the boob not covered up by the scarf looks sooo small. Camis don't enhance anything, do they?)

(Hayden's becoming quite the photographer!)

Next up is Christmas gift #2:

(Why does my nose look so slope-y at this angle?)
Pattern: The Yarn Harlot's hat pattern. I think the name is the Unoriginal Hat. I found it on Ravelry as well.
Yarn: Malabrigo Merino Worsted (out of my stash again - yay for stashbusting!), double stranded
Needles: big plastic orange size 11 dpns (yuck)
Discussion: I've decided to make hats for Hayden's speech and occupational therapists since they're cute and they don't take much time. This is for his speech therapist. I love the pattern and I like the way it turned out (except I look like a major dork in it - hats don't work for me), but I HATE double stranding yarn. Everything gets all tangled up, then it gets extra tangled up on the needle, and soon you have a mess. Fortunately I didn't have to put up with it long because it took less than 4 hours from start to finish. This is another pattern I'd use again - with a single strand of bulkier yarn.

Finally, here's a shot of the baby gift that should've been given to Hayden's teacher at her surprise shower last Tuesday, but Hayden decided to be a Pukeasaurus Rex on Monday and we stayed home from school for 2 days:

Pattern: Candy Cane Hat from Handknit Holidays
Yarn: RYC Cashsoft DK
Needles: size 6
Discussion: I wanted to practice my stranding skills before tackling Eunny's Endpaper Mitts (no, I have not started them yet) so I thought this would be perfect. I'm okay at stranding, but once I had to switch to dpns, it got a little tricky. That worries me since the entire mitt is done on dpns. Maybe I need some more practice. Anyway, I think the hat turned out okay, but not totally cute. Maybe it was my choice of yarn. The color combination is awesome, but the hat seems very flimsy. The yarn came out of my stash. If I try it again I'll use some wool. I have some Mission Falls 1824 Wool in my stash (which is what the pattern calls for, I'm pretty sure) - just not in boy colors. I feel a hat for a cute niece coming on!

I have 3 more projects on the needles, all due before Christmas. Off to knit! (And I promise, a Tree Jacket picture is in the near future. It's cooling down around here.)

Sunday, December 09, 2007

3 FOs, 2 PRs* and 1 growing list

I have no pictures of my recent FOs yet as I have been a lazy photographer. Hopefully those will come soon - maybe as early as tomorrow. But I do have 3 FOs to report on: a super-cool Tree Jacket (that, unfortunately, is too warm to wear right now - temps in the 70s in December is ridiculous), a really cute but maybe too big Candy Cane Hat, and a pretty but a tad short scarf. Pics and details to come later.

As for my 2 PRs:

1. Last weekend Mike and I ran the St. Jude Half Marathon in Memphis. I wanted to PR but at the same time not trash my legs for the next rumble with Pebbles (which was yesterday). I love to do math while I'm racing, so I kept setting goals for myself mid-race. My old PR was 1:47:27, which was an 8:13 pace. If I could get to mile 4 in 33 minutes or less, I'd still shoot for a PR. If not, I'd slow down and just enjoy the race. Time at mile 4 was 32:12. If I could get to mile 6 in 49 minutes, I'd keep on. Time at mile 6 was 48:24. And so on and so forth. At mile 12Mike said, "Come on - how much gas you got in the tank? Whatcha got left? Put it all out there!" I'm not the type of athlete who likes those little cliches, so I promptly told him to shut up and just go. We crossed the finish line in 1:46:13. Yippee! Our average pace was 8:07. It was tough, but not too tough. And my legs were tired, but not trashed. I've been taking Acid Zappers, and I think they have played a big part in my performances over the last 3 weeks. I was happy.

2. Yesterday was another Tennessee State Parks Running Tour race, the Forrest's Johnsonville Charge 5 miler. I got there a little later than I had planned on, but everything was fine. And yes, Pebbles was there. I was afraid that it'd be harder to beat her again since she now knew who I was and might possibly run a little faster to make sure she beat me. I lined up behind her just like last time and tried to stay there, but in the first half mile, I passed her. I expected her to pass me right back, but she didn't. The course was straight out and back, so I got to see her after I went through the turn around. She didn't seem too far behind me, but I ended up beating her by 51 seconds. Woot! I wanted to keep a 7:30 pace and finish in 37:30, but I was a little off and crossed the line in 38:04. Oh well. Still fast for me. I'm pretty sure this was a PR for a 5 mile race. In 2004 I ran the local Thanksgiving race, another 5 miler, in about the same time. I'm also pretty sure Pebbles was/is infuriated that I got 1st in our age group and she got 2nd. Whatev. There's nothing wrong with a little competition. (Notice I didn't throw in the word "friendly.")

And finally the growing list - a list of things I need/want to knit. Ravelry is partly to blame for this!

4 Christmas gifts
Sweater for Hayden out of some Rowan Handknit DK Cotton that I've had in my stash for something like 4 years
Monkey socks for me
More socks for Hayden
Gathered Pullover for me
Architectural Rib Pullover from The Natural Knitter for me

Come December 25th, whatever is on the needles will be taking a back seat to the last item on the list. I am getting that book and the yarn for Christmas and plan on casting on that day. That is the most phenomenal sweater I have seen in ages. Norah Gaughan is amazing!

* - For those of you who don't know, PR stands for "personal record." Some call it a PB - personal best - but that just makes me think of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.