Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Method to the Madness

There is sooooo much that goes on behind the scenes at Knitwits. We meet with various yarn reps to found the latest, greatest yarns and patterns, we dream up classes, KALs and clubs, we write blogs and agonize over e-mails and we try to promote everything with Ravelry, Facebook and anything else we can think of. But the truth of the matter is...we're Knitwits and things happen the Knitwits way!

Has this ever happened to you? You're looking up something on Ravelry and the next thing you know you end up on someone else's blog.  It happens to me all of the time!

I start reading their blog (although I'm really looking for the Free Pattern) and I realize that they're blog is more interesting than mine, prettier than mine and really well organized. Well, Whatever! The unpredictability and randomness of our Knitwits blog keeps you on your toes. In what "appears to be a disorganized mind"*, there is a method to the madness.

*note: in flight attendant speak, someone who has had way too much to drink is referred to as a passenger who "appears to be intoxicated."

Here is a sample of "The Madness Method" in action.

I decided that it would be fun to do a non-sweater KAL for intermediate to advanced non-sweater knitters. My Mystery KAL has been going well and I'd like to step up game.

First, I troll around on Ravelry for inspiration. I look at various galleries, yarns, patterns and interesting groups and discussion boards. I type in a yarn, say Shepherd's Wool, and then I'll search the projects that Ravelry-ers have posted. Or, I'll type in a designer, Stephen West and Jared Flood are current favorites. Or, I'll be on the Knitwits Group page and see something in the Gallery.  It really doesn't matter what the search is...I get distracted from the "real" task at hand and I end up on some random blog!

Next, I start reading the random blog. This morning, the random blog was Yarn Harlot, Stephanie Pearl-McPhee's Award Winning Blog. I was happy to land there because she's was blogging about "start-itis" and "finishup-itis", two "itises" that I suffer from too. She mentions that her favorite current designer is Spilly Jane Knits.

The next thing you know, I must know why Steph is addicted to Spilly Jane Knits so I click on the link. I'm back in Ravelry and I'm loving all of the Spilly Jane Knits designs. They are full of humor, whimsy, colorwork, cuteness and everything that makes me forget about a non-sweater KAL.

I'm just about to cast on a pair of Hippo Mittens called William it was Really Nothing when I stop myself-I stop myself because I can't find the right size needle not because it would be insane to start another project. I then remember that there was a baby blanket with Hippos that I wanted to knit, so I go searching through My Queue.

Alas, I found it! They we not Hippos, they were Monkey Faces. And the blanket is actually two blankets sewn together.  It's very cute, but a lot of knitting and a guaranteed UFO that I'm probably the only person that would want to knit it. Non-sweater KAL for One? Back to the drawing board.

I return to my Queue and I see Girasole.
I remember Girasole! It's a round, lacy blankets/shawl, by Jared Flood, great charted pattern. You can knit it in any weight yarn. This could be it! Yay!!!!

I downloaded the pattern for $6.50 from Brooklyn Tweed and I think it would be perfect for a KAL. The pattern is really well written and charted out with big, easy to read charts! The lace is divided into sections and charted out so that each section can be a KAL assignment. The project looks intimidating, but many of the folks that knit it, commented on how easy and quickly the project knit up.

I really like the Girasole knit up in Classy, a 100% merino wool, hand dyed, worsted weight, superwash yarn by Dream In Color. We carry Starry, Smooshy and Everlasting from Dream In Color, but we don't carry Classy.......yet.  So, you guessed it-I next click on the link to the Dream In Color (DIC) colorcards and I want to order every color!

I notice that Color Series 100 looks familiar and I remember the Tulips Cardigan that is in my Queue.
I really wanted to knit the Tulips Cardigan for a friend's new baby but it takes 8 colors of Classy. Wait a minute, if we order every color of Classy, I could knit my Tulips Cardigan. Lightbulb moment, we could kit up the Classy into Tulip Cardigan Kits because you only need a little bit of each of the 7 colors! Kit and Class! Brilliant!

Anyone interested in Dream in Color Classy, a Girasole KAL or a Tulips Cardigan Kit and class? I need some positive feedback in order to plug my desire to place an order for some DIC Classy.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

12 Sweaters in 12 Months

I've gotten some flack about my New Year's resolution to knit 12 sweaters in 12 months. To clarify the goal, I plan to knit 12 "wearable" sweater during 2011. To define "wearable", I mean ends woven in, buttons sewn on, blocked and worn to the shop at least once. I think I should get half-credits for sweaters that were cast on in 2010.

While most of the comments have encouraged my endeavor, a few remarks mentioned my size. (The Barbie Doll comment hurt). Nonetheless, after 22 days--I am still on track!

As I write this, the first sweater, Cockcrow, is on the blocking board. That's right, I just wrote blocking board! I'm serious about this endeavor and I'm swatching (sort of) and blocking. This is my first time using the blocking board and I highly encourage sweater knitters to use one. I laid Cockcrow out on the blocking board and following the schematic from the pattern, I pinned it against the grid lines. No wonder I had to break into an extra ball of Chesapeake, I had knit the darn body a full inch longer than the pattern called for. Everything else could be scrunched or stretched to measure. When I got everything pinned down, I sprayed it with Soak solution and patted it flat. Voila! My Cockcrow went from crumpled, rolled pieces jammed into a ziplock bag to something that actually resembled the picture on the pattern. Love that Blocking Board!

Also on my needles are the beginnings of my Crescent Springs Hoodie (my celtic cable version of the Central Park Hoodie), Alieta with Extra Ribbing (my version of Alieta from Chic Knits), Tea Leaves Cardigan (Madelinetosh Pattern) in Mista Alpaca Tonos, and (2010) Tussie Mussie in Rowan Felted Tweed (Knitty Pattern).

Why so many at one time?
There are several reasons (aka excuses). First, I just love starting new projects! Second, some of the sweaters (Tussie Mussie and Crescent Springs Hoodie) require charts, concentration, stitch markers, doo dads and things that I don't have while I'm on one of my trips. Third, timeliness--the hoodie needed to move up in the cue for the KAL and the Chic Knits Alieta shows the loveliness of the Chic Knits patterns (we have lots of them cuz I love 'em) and Shepherds Wool. Fourth, I suffer from knitting ADD--new patterns, magazines and yarns keep coming into the shop and I can't wait to get my grubby little needles going. Fifth, total disorganization--sometimes you just can't find the pattern, find your place in the pattern or find which knitting bag you last left the project in.  I can go on and on, but you get the picture.

I figure my start and finish ratio to be somewhere around 3:1. So, at this rate I should finish one of the above and start another 33 sweaters in 2011. Yikes! This could be a very expensive endeavor!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Why I'm Wearing a Coat

One would think that someone who spends 85% of her life chilled to the bone, would like wearing coats or cozy hand-knit sweaters. I prefer to wear 12 layers of Cuddl Duds and Spanx, than wear a coat! So, why have I been wearing a coat all week? Hint: The answer is not because of the snow storm and low temperatures.

I am still dealing with the aftermath of the hot water heater explosion of August 2010. The work is coming closer to completion but life without flooring continues.

Just before Thanksgiving, I scheduled the carpet installation that would had completed the flooring repair. The new stainmaster, plush, thick, luscious carpet in a lovely shade called Montauk and the 3 carpet installers came and moved all of my living room furniture into my Feng Shui bedroom, then proceeded to rip up the old carpet in the living room. As they removed the old carpet, they uncovered several major potholes in my subfloor. They looked at me and then the potholes, and pressed down on each pothole with their boots and 250+ pound bodies and said, "Sorry Ma'am but we can't install carpeting over these potholes--we don't think it's safe."

The 300+ pound carpet guy says, "How much do you weigh?". The 250 lb. carpet guy hit him and says,"Sorry about him, but what he means to say is that if you were our size, you might just have direct access to your downstairs neighbor. You need a new sub-floor. There is nothing else we can do here today. Bye Bye."

Fast forward two months (why does construction work cease between Thanksgiving and New Years?), the living room furniture is still in my once Feng Shui-ed bedroom, the dining room furniture is now also in my bedroom, I can't get into any of my bedroom closets or dressers, there is now a fine, white powdery dust accumulating on everything I own... and they are finally removing the concrete rubble that was once my subfloor.

Because I have no access to my bedroom closets, I have been limited to wearing: A) things that were in my suitcase consisting of uniform pieces and a black turtleneck, undies, running shorts, etc. B) things that were in the dryer or C) garments from the spare bedroom closet, which consists of "Fashion Mistakes from the 70's, 80's, 90's-that I paid too much for and can't Goodwill" and the "Current Goodwill Pile".

I wore my coat all week to cover up some fashion faux pas. I wore "the world's shortest mini skirt-Vivian Westwood circa 1989 with holey black sweater", "the Skull and Cross Bones mini skirt-Jean-Paul Gaultier circa 1992 with turquoise Goodwill Sweater-Gap circa 2008" and for the other 5 days, my Justice jeans-circa 2010!

Finally, someone spoke up and asked, "Why don't you ever wear anything that you knit?' (were they curious or just being kind?) Truth of the matter is...for the amount I knit, not much is wearable! There is a bunch of one sock and one slipper wonders, baby sweaters, sweaters with only one sleeve, a really fun turtleneck sweater that I bound off the neck too tightly-I can't get my head into, a Kidsilk Haze cutey-pie sweater that I knit the pockets into on the back instead of the front,....it is too humiliating to continue.

I am hoping that progress will be made this upcoming week and: A) My Montauk carpet will replace the exposed concrete, B) my bedroom closets will soon be reopened for business, C) my resolution to knit 12 sweaters in 12 months, will vastly improve my wardrobe.

Until then, I am flying so I'm in uniform (sort of), I should have Cockcrow (Sweater #1 of 12) finished and it should stay cold enough for me too keep wearing a darned coat!