Monday, December 31, 2007

Knit Lit's Best of 2007 meme

Wow... making my list of FO for 2007 yesterday helped me to realize just how much I really did knit over this past year.

To finish up my blogging year, I thought I'd do Knit Lit’s Best of 2007 meme (discovered through Lolly.

1. your best FO of the year

The answer to this question actually suprises me a bit, but I think my favorite knit turns out to be clapotis. The alpaca that it is knit with has special meaning for me (purchased on our summer vacation to Maine with friends) and the final product is warm, soft, and very cozy. While I found it a bit boring to knit, I love both the idea of it and the finished item itself.

Running a close second has to be my first ever pair of socks though. I love these socks. Why haven't I knit more? (I know why, it seems like they take a long time... but you know what, compared to sweaters they don't!). I need to pull those Trekking socks off the WIP list and into more serious rotation. I love the idea of cushy wool socks to warm the feet and heart.

2. best FO of the year made by a blog you link to

There are so many, how can you pick just one? Margaux has knit so many really beautiful things this year ... maybe just on the basis of consistently producing amazing things my vote goes to her. Some of my favorites of her's include Cherry, Bella (retro redux shrug), Moulin Rouge (FiFi). What has she done that isn't beautiful though?

3. best yarn you tried

Hmm... I think that I'm going to put two yarns as a tie here. The first would be the Koigu KPM I used for the forest canopy shawl (which I seriously considered putting up into answer 1). I absolutely understand why poeple like this yarn... it's soft and the colors... just fabulous.

My second pick for this category has to be the alpaca used for clapotis. The yarn was purchased on the farm from Village Farm Alpacas -- 100% alpaca, Light Worsted Wt (2 oz/ 110 yds), spun in Waldoboro, Color: Fawn Like Rainey (one of the alpacas on their farm). It was definitely expensive, but I'm glad I made the splurge. For me, it's not just yarn, but a memory.

4. best new book/mag/pattern of 2007

This year I met Interweave Knits magazine and find it very inspirational. I also really like Fitted Knits by Stephanie Japel (although I'm a little less enamoured of it now that I've knit a few thing than I was when I simply was looking at the pictures... grin). Charlene Schurlach's Sensational Knitted Socks did not let me down in learning to knit socks and I think I'll use it again and again. I think I have to say, overall though, that the internet, websites, and blogs provided me with the "bests" this year. Even if the pattern eventually came from elsewhere, that's what helped me to find it first.

5. best new knitting technique or gadget you tried in 2007

The answer to this question is easy, Ravelry! This web site is a treasure trove. While I don't spend hours here like some do, I find it to be an amazing compendium of knowledge. I can see what an item looks like in various sizes, with different yarns, and as knit by many different people. I find that much better than just one picture by the designer. I also have been able to email people who have knit an item successfully to get advice or just to say "great job!". I think this one site will completely change how I decide what project I tackle. Yarn substitutions become much easier when you can see what others have tried successfully (and not so).

As a more conventional answer, I also learned how to knit socks both toe up and cuff down. Like both, but think I have a slight preference for cuff down. I may have to try a few more pairs to really make this decision though.

6. top 5 inspirations--what five things inspired you the most over the past year?

Wow... this isn't an easy question. The short answer would be blogs and ravelry, but that seems a bit like a cheat.

I suppose at a more spiritual levels I'd say most of my inspiration definitely comes from nature (which we are lucky to be surrounded with in great abundance here in Southern California). S and I love to go to the mountains, the desert, and the beach, all of which are easy trips from home. Even my morning walks with Sterling are inspirational though -- there is nothing like a quiet morning to reflect on the beauty of the world.

Going back to the simplistic though, when I think about what inspires me to knit, I do think it's seeing the great images and words that others have shared on their blogs.

I've discovered some really amazing blogs over the last month or so and these definitely inspire me: Tienne Knits, through the loops, neither hip nor funky, whitknits, coloursknits, Stash, Knit, Repeat, ... and another thing, a friend to knit with, bag n' trash - home of monster yarn, flint knits, nova made, the lint knitter, lolly knitting around, the potential of yarn, zebra knits, and cosmic pluto knits, as examples.

Then there are the old (to me) standbys: brooklyntweed, tentenknits, knitspot,
january one, the yarn harlot, and the panopticon, to name a few. And finally, there are lots, and lots, of other blogs I visit daily to just keep up with the goings on (see my side bar).

With all these great visuals and all this great work, who could not be inspired!?

7. designer who most amazed & inspired you throughout the year

Hmm... I don't have an answer to this one. I think I am most amazed by all of you -- taking a pattern written by someone and making it your own. Selecting your own yarns and colors, tailoring a pattern to your own needs... that to me is amazing and inspirational!

8. knitting resolutions for 2008--what's next for you and your blog?

Well I've just suprised myself. I've been thinking about this for several days now and my resolution had been simply to knit more sweaters and socks and to keep blogging.

This meme really has helped me to think about knitting, what inspires me, and what I love. I think I can come up with some better resolutions now. Those will come tomorrow though!


Many thanks to Knit Lit for these questions, which on first look seem simple, but allow you to look at little deeper. Take the meme... more information is here.

Happy new year's eve!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Spinning in review

In addition to my knitterly adventures, this year I took up spinning. The FOs in this category are much smaller, but it was a start. I'm looking forward to learning more about this art over the upcoming year.

My first drop spindle spun yarn -- August 2007

My first wheel spun yarn -- September 2007

And here is my new Joy. We expect to spend much time together in the future.

Another year... more FOs

Knitting has become a pretty important part of my life. I realize that when I'm busy and stressed, I don't take time to knit and consequently I feel more stressed and crazy. When I make a little time every day to knit, we'll let's just say I stay a bit more centered.

Last year I resolved to take on the challenge of knitting socks and sweaters. I'm pleased to say that I accomplished both of those goals. In fact, looking back over my knitting this year, I'm pretty amazed by what I accomplished. This year really has helped me to feel much more competent at knitting. There are still lots of things for me to learn (steeks; how do you really fit a sweater to your dimensions?), but I don't feel intimidated by much at this point. I'm looking forward to another great year of knitting next year.

Here's a recap of projects finished over the past year.


One row scarf
Manos del Uruguay Handcrafted Kettle Dyed Pure Wool

Garter Rib Socks -- my first pair of socks ever!
Moda Dea Sassy Stripes


Picovoli -- my first sweater ever!
Frog Tree Pima Silk


Forest Canopy Shoulder Shawl -- my first finished shawl!
Koigu KPM

Bold and Bulky Mini Cardi
Lion Brand Wool Ease Thick & Quick


Cropped Cardigan with leaf ties
Lion Brand Cotton Ease


Drop-Stitch Lace Tank
Cascade Pima Tencel


Bubby and improvised sweaters
just bits of Red Heart Soft Yarn

Retro Redux Shrug
just under 2 hanks of Malabrigo

Toe-up Socks with Peasant Heel
less than 2 balls of Cascade Fixation


Yankee Knitter Designs' Easy Bulky Sweater (Patterns #30)
3 balls of Steinbach Wolle Sport

Anthropology inspired capelet
3 skeins of Knit Picks Sierra/Cadena


Baby Bolero
2 skeins of Lion Brand Nature's Choice Organic Cotton


4 skeins of Rowan Calmer

Baby Bolero
2 skeins of Lion Brand Nature's Choice Organic Cotton

Fingerless Gloves
a little over 1 skein of Alpaca with a Twist Highlander


Mini Mittens
from left over yarns


Lion Suede in Spice (less than 1 ball)

less than 1 ball of Dark Horse Yarns Fantasy

5 balls of 100% alpaca from Village Farm Alpacas

Garter stitch scarf
2 balls of Bernat Max (100% acrylic)

I hope everyone else has had a wonderful knitty year as well!

Friday, December 28, 2007

Who wouldn't love ...

a clean dog with a cute little face like this?

Dylan, on the couch, also approves of cleanliness (Sterling just had a bath... hence the wrapped in towel love).

Thursday, December 27, 2007

And another thing ...

Yes... it is amazing, but I have another FO to share.

I've had this at the office and would add a little to it on Monday nights when I had a break between my two classes. I finished it up on christmas day along with clapotis.

This is the yarn that I picked up to try for urchin. You'll remember that that didn't go so well (laugh). This is a much better use of the yarn. The thick and thins make for an interesting garter stitch look and with large needles, this didn't really take much time to do.

Ah the joys of getting back to a calm, relaxed life.

Garter stitch scarf
2 balls of Bernat Max (100% acrylic)
Color: white
US size 15 circulars
cast on October 29, 2007
finished (with very small amounts of work at at time) December 25, 2007

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Clapotis... number 2666?!

There is nothing like a few days off work to make a little knitting progress!

As you may remember, I purchased yarn in Maine, during our summer vacaction, from an alpaca farm and spent some time trying to decide what to do with it. After a bit of swatching I decided on clapotis. Now I'm hardly the first to knit up this pattern. And in fact, I'm the 2666th finished clapotis on Ravelry. So much for originality hmm?

I am very happy with the finished project though. The yarn is fabulous -- soft and warm. The pattern a great compliment for it -- clapotis is by design quite snuggly and provides a great cover up for the chill.

I'm not sure that I'll join the crowd of people knitting lots of these, but I will enjoy this FO quite a bit.

Clapotis by Kate Gilbert
5 balls of 100% alpaca, Light Worsted Wt (2 oz/ 110 yds), spun in Waldoboro, from Village Farm Alpacas
Color: Fawn Like Rainey
US size 8 circulars
cast on September 16, 2007
finished (after lots of breaks) December 25, 2007

Modifications: Pattern knit as written, except knit as a longer, narrower stole (instructions for the modification are in the pattern). This was done to use the quantity of yarn available from my trip. Final size 76" long and 12" wide (with just a smidge of yarn left over!).

I was concerned that I wouldn't have enough yarn to make the pattern's 21" x 55" size. I of course kept second guessing myself, but decided to just be safe and do long and narrow so that I could end when I started to run out of yarn. Now that I'm finished, I see this was a good choice. I would have been about 1/2 a ball of yarn short if I had done the original size. Yeah for a disaster averted!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Happy Dec 25th

To celebrate our Dec 25th, S and I decided to commune with nature.

Take a look at this Southern California beauty.

These are the mountains just north of Glendora... I'm not sure what they are technically called, but at least part of it is East Fork. The San Gabriel river runs through the middle of this area and the river and mountains provide some pretty spectacular scenery.

That's Mount Baldy in the background.

At one point I had to turn the tables (the camera that is) on S ... first in gest,

then for real.

This is a great trip... well worth the drive.

Hope everyone else had as wonderful a day!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Vacation -- Day 1

Yeah! Yesterday was the first full day of vacation from work. S and I decided to take a day trip into Riverside.

Beautiful architecture.

We spent part of our day at the UC Riverside botanical gardens. I have to admit we were underwhealmed with the gardens, except...

yep... plants in the cactus garden bigger than your head... and if fact, bigger than a person.

The views also weren't so bad.

Plants like this make us think about putting alot more cacti and succulents in our gardens. They are pretty amazing plants.

In addition to the gardens, we did spend a little time driving around town and taking in the sights. S was kind enough to take me by two (yes two) yarn stores in Riverside -- Closeknit and Knit n' Stitch. Both very nice stores with very helpful staff. I was a bit amazed that Riverside had so many yarn stores (3 according to the yellow pages online).

We also managed to eat two good meals. First, we had lunch at Chico's Mexican Food. We were drawn here because we could get vegetarian and vegan mexican food. Gotta love that. The meals were delicious.

For dinner we went to a tapas bar... the Seville. This was one of the best meals we've had since we moved to California. Yummy cheeses, delicious marinated mushrooms, wonderful sauteed shrimp... everything was just great. Who knew there'd be so much good stuff to do for a day in Riverside!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

sigh ... I love Southern California

Where else can you have crisp weather, blue skies, snow on the mountain, hot sunshine, and people trimming gigantically tall palm trees?

Yes it is fabulous.

I'm so pleased to report that I survived my last day at work before the break... I don't have to go back into the office until Jan 2nd! Yeah!!!

Now I will admit that I did have to bring some work home with me, but the pressure feels so much lighter now... in fact I feel almost human again.

Thursday night, in anticipation of the end, I went to my local SnB. Had such a good time. Met Veronika ... who showed me a great way to purl continental style... thanks so much!!... got to see Jane and Jenean ... made a little progress on Clapotis. The world is good my friends.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Finally.... a FO

Wow, it's been a long time since last I posted! Life, as you might guess, has not gotten any quieter and work has not gotten any better. I've been trying to think of ways to just disappear from work and not get in trouble. My to-do list there seems to grow at twice the speed of light and my ability to cross anything off the list as done... not happening!

Nevertheless, in a shameless attempt to save my sanity, I did a little gift knitting this weekend and managed to finish up Shedir. I'm pleased to say this was wrapped up and delivered to its recipient today. A great little knit... a little attention grabbing while you go but lots of bang in the finished project.

[the front view]

[my favorite view... maybe because you can't see much of me, mostly the hat... =] ]

[the back view]

[I think the crown also turned out quite lovely]

[I also like turning up the brim just a bit... fun}

Shedir by Jenna Wilson
less than 1 ball of Dark Horse Yarns Fantasy
50% Nylon, 50% acrylic
color 07, lot 2140 (purple)
US 3 circular and dpns
started December 7, 2007
finished December 16, 2007

Modifications: skipped rows 37-52 of the pattern and went right from 36 to 53.
Final hat: 8 1/2 " diameter; 8 inches from brim to top of crown ... a perfect fit!
The yarn... my first time to use it... was really great. As a 100% man made fiber, it was really nice. Very soft, held together well for the knit. I think it will be good for the recipient since she has lost her hair to chemo and I wanted a yarn that would be very soft and wouldn't have any itch potential.