Sunday, January 8, 2012

Keep your fingers out of your mouth

Happy New Year readers!  Today I created a "knitting 2012" folder for all my new pictures, and I didn't waste any time taking the first round of shots. 

Let's begin with a catch-up on one of my last projects of 2011:

  Finished, and had also been worn twice by the time this picture was taken.  The socks were accidentally washed in the machine (but not through the dryer thank goodness) and got covered in little bits of kleenex.  I'm the guilty party there, I regularly stash kleenex in my pants and sweater pockets for later use and then forget to check pockets before laundry day.  The socks weren't harmed in any way, and I picked off the white fluffies just before taking this picture for your benefit.  You're welcome.

I love the twisty design on a plain socks, it really lets the pretty yarn shine through.  This yarn was purchased in September at the KW Knitters Fair from Viola Fibres.  I hear that Emily, the name behind Viola, is taking a break from creating beautiful yarns, possibly forever.  I can't seem to find any information to support this claim on the interweb, but I'm concerned nonetheless.  Now I'm a sad panda, and I have to use and appreciate the yarns I bought from her.  More on that shortly.

I've been working on yoga socks, to keep up the inventory at the studio.  The two remaining pairs that I had at the studio before Christmas have been snatched up, and I'm still one pair short to fill someone's order for 3 pairs.  Here are my latest happy little campers, about half-way done the first sock.  The pattern is Blackrose from Knitty winter 2008.  I was searching for a lacey sock pattern that wouldn't drag me down.  For yoga socks, since I sell them for pretty cheap and I need to produce them quickly, I look for a single panel of pattern without many rows to the repeat.  This pattern is absolutely perfect - the chart is 8 rows, only 4 of which are pattern, and it's done over 17 stitches for a nice off-centre or centred design.  The rest of the sock is done in plain stockinette stitch. 

The yarn here is the rest of the skein of KnitPicks Tonal Sock yarn in "Gypsy".  I bought this yarn specifically for yoga socks because it puts the material cost to make a pair squarely under $5. 
And I finished a pair of yoga socks to add to the pile.  There ones are the same pattern as my lovely Viola socks above, but done on a simply yoga sock.  I also like this pattern for yoga socks - it's simply to follow and makes for a quick knit.  While I don't tend to use fancy yarns that need to be shown off with simple stitches, I think they are a handsome pair of socks in a pretty colour.

The finished pair, blocking on sock blockers and getting some air exposure on top of my swift.  I'm back at the studio late next week for the first class of the season, and I would love to have two finished pairs to pin to the board.  

While yoga socks are consistently in the background, I can also start thinking of all the lovely things I'll be making this year.  Top of the list right now is making something with my Viola yarns.  Remember this pretty young thing, also one of my finds from the Fair?  She is destined to be a shawl for Tam Tam, I knew that from the time I first picked her up.  This may or may not be a wedding shawl for Tam Tam (a ring is supposed to be making an appearance this year, but I'm not holding my breath), but I know she'll like it.

I decided on Brooklyn Tweed's "Rock Island" shawl for Tam Tam.  It's light and airy, a classic triangle, and I'm sure she'll love it.

I have yet to purchase the pattern, but it's at the top of my queue and my next big project.

Also on the list of yarns to use is my "Bruised Plum" from Viola.  I think it will be destined for a pair of fingerless mitts to wear at the office during the winter.  I've had my eye on Anne Hanson's Curling Neckwarmer and Mitts set for a while, I think that might do the trick.  Anne spoke at a Guild meeting a few months ago and I really enjoyed her designs. 

I know Christmas was only over a week ago, but I'm already thinking of ideas for this year's extended family gifts.  Fuzzyhead thinks I'm thinking too far ahead, but I know that my Christmas jams took hours and hours of time to prepare, and had to be done months before Christmas when the fruit was in season.  I just spent a few minutes tooling around the internet for inspiration, and came across some potential ideas:
  • Homemade chai tea syrup - just add milk and heat, yum!
  • Baking.  I've done this a bit in previous years, but usually only for a handful of people, not everyone.  Based on my counts for jams this Christmas, I need something for about 24 people, and that would mean a butt-ton of baking in December when I have literally no time.  The doughs can sometimes be made ahead and frozen, but our freezer capacity right now is pathetic (thanks a lot tiny Japanese robot fridge), and the actual baking still needs to be done within a day or so.
  • Knitted ornaments.  A recent Vogue Knitting had a feature on colourwork knitted ornaments and I thought they would be a great idea, one for everyone.  There are a few flaws with this plan - Fuzzyhead pointed out that many of his family members don't do Christmas trees or have taken all the fun out of Christmas by having colour-coordinated trees (totally lame, right?  In a delicious Martha Stewart way, except homemade ornaments aren't acceptable), and it would mean all of the work falls on me for our joint gifts since Fuzzyhead doesn't knit.  This isn't terribly different from the jams - I made all batches of jam entirely by myself and decorated the jars by my lonesome - so I guess this one is still an option.
  • Home-made baking mixes.  I found this idea in a magazine two years ago, and I had intended to do it this year but didn't.  Along with the jams, I was going to include gingerbread scone baking mix (just add liquid), but then I didn't.  It's still a good idea, so I'm keeping it on the pile
In case you're wondering why everything on this list is home-made, it's because I literally have no money, and I don't know most of the people I have to produce presents for very well.  Most of the list of 24 or so people includes aunts and uncles and cousins who I see once or twice a year, and it's too hard to think of things to buy them that they might actually want.  Plus, it's hella expensive.

Thoughts, suggestions, comments?  I really liked the jams/jellies I did this year, but I feel like people are expecting so much more from us.  We included smaller extra gifts for some people, and despite my hours of work on the jams, I think the more traditional store-bought gifts were better received.