How to Get on Top of the WIPs/UFOs, Plus Flotsam and Jetsam

A bouquet to LizzieK8!

A bit of a dialogue was going on this week on Knitting Novices (a Yahoo group) regarding how many UFOs people had and how they bring the numbers down. LizzieK8, whose "Lizzie's Loose Ends" is one of my favorites reads in blogland, said several things that I want to quote here:

"Another thing to help with finishing is to dedicate a specific amount of time to each project. Say work on the top one of your list for four hours. Then work on the next one for four hours and work on down
the list. Keep track of the time on note pad or with an electric analog clock set at 12:00. Just unplug the clock when you get up from working on your project.

"When you've finished a given number of projects, say, two, then reward yourself with CO a new one. Put the new one in the rotation and give it four hours every time it comes around till another two have been finished. It allows everything to get worked on and keeps boredom at bay.

"Also give yourself permission to frog a project if you really don't want to finish it. No sense punishing yourself by being forced to work on something you don't like anymore. Contrary to what our teachers told us, it's not a sign of bad character to quit on a project, it's a sign of good character to realize you don't want to finish it and recycle the yarn for something you do want to work on."

Having spent a fair amount of time while cleaning up and organizing the stash, and discovering all the WIPs I had amassed, feeling sheepish [heheh], I loved both Lizzie's suggestions and her reminder to accept ourselves as we are as knitters--everyone has her/his own style and needn't apologize for it. Thanks, Dearie. Now where did I put that old plug-in clock?

In other news, I wanted to show you this:

which makes these:

and enjoin you to find a solar-powered suncatcher that throws rainbow spots in the room to magic up your crib. (OK, I'll stop that now. It's too weird.) When the crystals start spinning on the two we have in the kitchen, where we get lots of late afternoon sun, I can cook dinner in the happiest of environments, almost a fantasyland. I hear that cats love to chase the spots but apparently our four haven't gotten that memo. 8^(

Here is a gadget that I got on a whim and have found indispensible ever since! It's sort of a mini rug-hooking thing, sold as a snag fixer, and it's part of my finishing process on anything I knit. Now I see that one can be purchased that is lighted! Even bettah.

Saturday the Vegan Girl made her friends a pineapple-upside-down cake that was just too pretty not to photograph. I guess even vegans eat cherries preserved in red food dye. ;^) Word is that it was tasty. We never got to find out.

And my study, sometimes known as A Work in Progress, is gradually becoming organified--here is the latest effort, compliments of a sale at Target, some self-reliance in the assembly department (while DH was up camping with his guy friends) finding tools, reading directions, and executing the assemblage. Then--voila!-- perfectly located on my desk return. I have heavily distributed cedar blocks among the skeins too, since it's not sealed away. Somehow having my yarn out as beautification all its own seems just right to me.

And here is a lovely gift from DMIL for both DH's birthday and our 29th anniversary:

Isn't it something truly unique? Apparently the artist uses a saw to cut it into pieces but it is not actually disassemblable (OK I KNOW that's not a word!). The parts articulate though and that gives it an almost realistic vibe. We loved it and the girls are also in awe--everyone picks it up and plays with it, tries to find out how it "works," etc.

Too much time playing ketchup. Now for some knitting!

About Mel's Contest

Crazy Catlady Mel has agreed to add another prize to her already cool offerings! I've got a few unused ravelry goodies that need an appreciative home, so if you enter her contest, not only are you in the running for two skeins of knock-your-socks-off sock yarn, or an emergency knitting kit (love this concept!), but you could also choose the ravelry tote bag, t-shirt, and buttons! T-shirt size medium (and not wrinkled!), and there are actually two buttons, the second of which says, "A daily dose of fiber--ravelry." So scroll down and find out more about Mel's contest, and then, get crackin'! (PS: I 'm sure you realize, but JIC, the "Hello My Name is--" button does not say "frecklegirl." I borrowed the photo from the ravelry store, and "frecklegirl" is Jess, who with hubby Casey, makes up the amazing ravelry creative team. This button is blank, waiting for YOUR name. 8^)

Spring Cleaning (in Summer)

I've been attempting the near impossible over the past several days, when I could get in there to continue the attempt. Cleaning the study and organizing the "overstocked warehouse," that is. Who knew I had so dang much yarn? [Ahem, DH knew! All my PayPal transactions cross his email desk, so to speak, and he is a strong, strong man for saying nothing more than--"Wow! That was expensive! What did you buy--half a sheep?"]

Which leads me to one of my ulterior motives, of which I always have a few. That, and nefarious plans [shifty eyes and Mr. Burns' hand wringing].

Mel, one of my favorite crafteristas, has been holding her birthday contest, which runs until--surprise!--her birthday, August 8. I once WON this contest and still have the nifty lighted knitting needles, a handmade needle roll, and some other fancies to remember her (and her favorite charity) by. All the contest details are here on her blog, but basically here's the lowdown: Before August 8, if you send a donation of yarn or other knitting/crocheting items to the ladies at Interim House, in Philly, and email to tell Mel what you have sent, she will add your name to her random prize generator (for one of two amazing prizes). She has the appropriate addy on her blog entry, so no worries about where the yarn should be sent.

Your donation helps make the following wonderful things happen:
1. Women who are recovering from drug and alcohol addiction and learning different ways to be productive and stay calm in our crazy world have all the yarn and needles needed to become skilled tricoteuses. ["That's knitters for all ya's what don't speak Eye-talian!"] Kathy and a heap of volunteers at Interim House provide the materials, the lessons, the encouragement, and the photo gallery publication that gives women in transition something much better than those previous addictions.
2. Your donation helps you reorganize and tidy up what is probably a somewhat optimistic stash of knittables, right? That's the theory I'm operating on, and there is no doubt that things are looking more organized and more sensible in my knitter's workshop.
3. You get a chance at some gasp-worthy surprises. Look! See what I mean? Who wouldn't want to be the new mother/father of these babies?

So, your mission, NOT impossible, is to look through what you have, see what you can live without, and pass it on to a worthwhile program. I have searched in my neck of the woods for anything similar to donate to, to feel as if I am doing something for my own community of women in similar circumstances, and . . . there's just nothing. Nothing knitting/crocheting oriented, that is. What they have is something special.

All the pertinent details are on Mel's blog, so get to it!

I have been donating to IH for at least three years, since I first heard of them through Mel's blog, and stay in touch with Kathy, the social worker who runs this program. She is inspiring for having gotten the knitting/crocheting efforts underway there and for always updating the IH blog with the newest creations the women have come up with. The women are way into felting! And also making blankets that they can take with them when they leave after their six month stints there (so symbolic, to an English teacher). As for my study-cleaning efforts, I have gathered together a goodly number of whole skeins and a few nearly full ones, as well as some knitting needles I don't use, and I am about to hunt down the right box for this donation and get it into the mail. Much of this yarn comes to me from my mom and her own overstocked warehouse, but is in colors or types that I just don't use. It is lovely, but not my style.

While attempting to clean up the den o' creativity, I found this! LOL moment:

The conclusion to be drawn is painfully obvious. I think we can all guess how the authors have made their fortunes--while all the homes in the English-speaking world remain clutter traps. I think a better subtitle would be: Which is Almost an Insurmountable Goal, But Buy the Book and Maybe You'll Read the First Chapter.

With all this non-reading and serious cleaning, I have not actually done as much knitting as I would prefer. But I guess that's for the greater good (I can find things now! I don't need to buy cream-colored yarn anymore! etc.). I will have no lack of things to keep me busy when I get the last of it tidied up, since I have now collected in one place all the bags that I use for my individual projects , and there are thirteen. "What did you say, Stacie?" Um, thirteen UFOs. But I'm about to frog one of them, so it will be twelve really.

Oh, well, in that case . . .

And now, brace yourselves please. When DH was supposedly feeling a bit under the weather after a high fever that has since resolved, when I was giving him cups of peppermint tea and bringing him uncounted glasses of water, not to mention making his favorite things for dinner, he repaid me for all my kindness. We had both seen an arresting advertisement in Entertainment Weekly this past week that I asked him to scan for me, to send to DD#1 (for nefarious purposes, I admit it). I had not been able to find the ad on the net, even after searching for a while, so I thought it would be easier to just have him scan it and send me the image. INSTEAD, he found the advertiser's site, had some fun, and created this hideous 'shopped monstrosity.

I may never sleep again.

I had told him if he found the original picture on the internet, I'd give him a prize, since I'd looked so very thoroughly.

Which I did, yesterday, on his birthday. ;^) For the record, he is now divisible by 12 and 16, not to mention 6, 8, 2, 3 and 4. His biggest goal these days, he says, is to celebrate his 50th, 60th, etc. birthdays.

Here, here!

Cool photos

Look closely at this photo!

Standing on line at the bank . . . baaaah!
and this one too:

I was sent an email with these pictures and went online to find the source, which was, I believe, of a Spanish artist. Make magazine brought them to the English speaking world I guess, and the email forward got started. I think they are unforgettable!

Wouldn't knit with their "wool" though!

A Chance to Learn New Things

Before I give you the latest rundown on my knitting exploits, I want to you see what I watched while knitting last night, and why I am crazy about it.

How can I have watched Law and Order all this time and not seen the version HE was in? Sigh.

Ahem. Back to our regularly scheduled programming. I am steaming right along on several projects, completed something, and have learned some awesome new things this week. First, one FO, the skater beanie, of my own basic pattern (not that it's rocket science):
Learned to shape a crown in 1x1 ribbing too--ravelry comes through again (someone's pattern with the info I needed to model mine on). Love the way that looks. I used stash remnants of brown (almost gray brown) and green superwash wool.

Then, last Thursday, Kathy helped me get the Easy Drop Stitch scarf going right with a very quick lesson at Purlescence, where she was working for the afternoon. I had just grabbed a ball of something variegated (Malabrigo), some #9 needles, and my wits, and between helping customers, she showed me that sometimes YOs are picked up and knitted, but other times they are dropped. In this pattern, just drop them. Simple! I came home from our tutorial so empowered that I cast on a second scarf out of yarn that I'd just purchased at Purlescence*, this lovely Manos del Uruguay Silk Blend. More sport weight, less fuzzy, a little more elegant perhaps.

So I have a fall scarf and a winter scarf in the making. Woo-hoo!

*Seriously, folks. Who goes into a yarn shop (especially one as fabulous as Purlescence) and doesn't buy any yarn???

Then, I got well underway with Super Secret Project #1, which I cannot divulge at all except to say that I am using Knitpicks Wool of the Andes and feeling like quite the competent knitter these days (it being a rather major undertaking) and have also learned the very simple and very useful ssk and ssp techniques for decreasing. [huge smile and a wink]

Here's a little yarn p*rn for you.Got this squishy Organik from GranolaYarns--if I seem to patronize her shop frequently it is because Heather's yarn selections are so similar to my own tastes. I am thinking of a felted bag/purse but am not sure I want to felt yarn that is so very gorgeous. Idears? It's about 450 yards.

And this Herrschner's deal was too good to pass up--Bazic Wool for $3.97 a ball! There were actually a good number of shades to choose from, too. My brown (bark) turned out a little too orange, but I am going to be brave and knit with it knowing that some recipients look fine in/actually like that shade. I loved knitting with Bazic (remember my Diversity scarf?) and am amazed to find, on others' blogs and ravelry project details, that some people don't like the way it feels. I see this being something for a baby--a bold, courageous, march-to-the-beat-of-his/her-own-drummer sort of baby. ;^)

Detecting a trend in my color interests these days??? Yep, something about blue, green, and brown that just gets me every time.

I have not had any shoulder pain this summer, nor any other (probably) repetitive stress pain. This might mean I'm not knitting too much, but DH might dispute that.

Speaking of DH, huzzah!
Midpoint scans show his cancer tumors are shrinking and have been reduced by about 40%, and several other things that are in the works sound very promising, such as a second opinion at Stanford (one of the best lymphoma research sites in the world) recommended by his oncologist just so we can cross all t's and dot all i's, not to mention that he's involved with Team in Training, running as an "honoree," and has done 9 and 12 mile runs in the past few weeks with them. He is going out to run at Rancho with his friend today, in fact, the day after his 4th chemo treatments! Now, there's tenacity. There's seizing the day. There's the man I love.

~Happy knitting, all!

A Knitting Fool

I've been busy! Four summer birthdays (everyone in the whole fam damily but me!) and some fun internet searching for just the right something. Fortunately Jejune gave me a smashing idea for one of my giftees. Between that, ShanaLogic, and etsy shops, I am finding it very easy and a heck of a lot of fun this year. 8^)

And I am a knitting fool. Here are some of my UFOs (the new ones!). I started a scarf from some wool/silk I got from A Verb for Keeping Warm (up in Oakland). I love the color and am doing a stitch that I've not used before, usually seen on sock heels, Eye of Partridge. Why I always think, "Eye of Newt" when I think of the stitch, I do not know. [Insert snide comment here.] So far I am not f*ing up the pattern, which is "four" rows (though two are straight purling).
I started Blankie #2, on size 35s with these green/blue/gray tones. I also switched to seed stitch (three stitches on each side) instead of garter. Nicer. I've got a bit more done than this, but this gives a feeling for the softness, the invitingness, the warmth of this future gift throw.

And I finished booties I started at the end of June while in Seattle, from Knitpicks Swish. These are for my grand-nephew, Brian, who was born in January, so will need somewhat larger booties when it gets cool again and he's, oh, nine months old. Hope the little jingle bells don't drive his parents batty.
I'm also doing a mindless in the round beanie (brown and green) and still working on my Karen scarf, when I'm not plotting a new cast-on. I got Itty-Bitty Hats with my Borders discount coupon today and am already very interested in two of her patterns, not to mention her instructions for knitted stars, flowers, and others shapes. Susan Anderson must have the same embellishment gene as Cosymakes.

Off to bed. Tomorrow DH has his halfway CT scan to see how his chemo is eradicating the cancer cells that were previously large tumors. Though he is somewhat sobered by the drinking of barium (contrast dye), as he says he guesses he'll be doing this for the rest of his life, I am feeling very glad for the existence of barium smoothies, and am hoping that his new involvement with Team in Training (Leukemia and Lymphoma Society running clubs that raise money for research) will help provide him with the perspective of those who have gone ahead of him and are much further down the running/cancer path than he.

Happy knitting, all.

More, Better

I'm making progress on Blankie, and I find that as it takes shape, I don't dislike it anymore. It's not love I'm feeling, but I see its charms now. And I know more that I can bring to the next throw I knit. Another kitty moment, as you can see, since a blanket has been laid on the floor--what else would it be there for, Cleo asks, but to stand on and start a leisurely bath?

I'm still startitis-ing, and now it's the Easy Drop Stitch Scarf pattern. I liked the word "easy" in the title, but I admit up front that it will be a challenging "easy" because it's an 8-row pattern. I am thinking up ways to make sure I know what row I'm on. A row counter, you suggest? Excellent idea, but it hasn't worked for me. I'm thinking rows of numerals 1-8 on a sheet of paper, crossed off each time I finish one. Rudimentary but hopefully effective. And what yarn shall I use for this? The creator of the pattern recommends something variegated. Time to go peruse the stash.

Happy knitting, all!

Suffering from Startitis

Confession Time
If you have picked up Stephanie Pearl-McPhee's newest book, Things I Learned From Knitting (Whether I Wanted to or Not), or if you are a frequenter of her blog, you will know of what I speak. As she puts it in her first chapter, "startitis" is "the almost overwhelming urge to start a new project or ten or twenty, regardless of what's on the needles now and how much you love this current work." That's me. I am limited only by the number of needles of a certain size I have (and whether I have dupes at all for the new project--oh heck, I admit it, I have pulled the needles out of a UFO to start another item). (OK, I admit it, I've bought new needles in a size I have already so I could start something new.)

Whew. Glad we got that confession out of the way. If I were Catholic and needed absolution for that, I think the priest would crack up behind his little screen. Or scratch his head in total amazement at my feelings of guilt.

Knitting what?
So, Stacie, what are you knitting these days? Glad you asked.

I gave the little spumoni sweater to Leonie last weekend (that is Leonie above, with a raspberry in her hand). Our visit to Seattle was out-of-this-world good and fun, but it was also that city's hottest weekend so far--much too warm for a sweater--didn't see her actually wearing it 8^( but her mama will send me a picture. Rather than rest on my laurels when I returned home, I started catching up on my ravelry site and reading my favorite knitting bloggers' latest entries.

That's when the startitis started. I saw something called the "Six-Hour Throw" on wickedgoodknitta's ravelry site and thought, "Ah! A really good use of Homespun," which I originally abandoned about three months into my adult knitting life. This throw is knitted with four strands of varying colors on #50 needles (the hugest I've seen--imagine using broomstick handles!--the only thing bigger would be needles made out of PVC pipe or something), in stockinette, and the effect, for wickedgoodknitta, is quite lovely.

[Warning: if you are an afghan lover and you knit/crochet lots of these, what I am about to say may be offensive.] Actually, I have always thought afghans were ick, something my grandma made and slung over the couch, in hideous colors, acrylic yarns, and lacy, fiddly patterns. Retro. And not in a good way.

Yet I like throws (OK, they're just afghans of a smaller type), and the simpler the stitch, the nicer the yarn, the more I like them.

So I ran out and got all the yarn, finally found the "speed stix" at the bottom of the needle display, and raced home to put dinner on so I could start this amazing throw. And immediately got a clear sense for what people meant when they said (on all these other ravelry-ers' project descriptions for the 6-Hour Throw) that it takes a while to get the hang of knitting with these huge suckers. A while? How about severe hand cramps and muscle pain? It may only take six hours, but after yesterday, they will be doled out one hour per day.

And I'm not lovin' it. Until I truly have the knack for using these needles and four strands simultaneously, I think I'm not going to love it because I find it hard to adjust the tension, and it's turning out loose. Not to mention when I inadvertently drop one strand and don't realize it until rows later. Not to mention that this color combo turned out . . . bleah. But I will forge on ahead, finish it, mend it, and call it #1. Then I can get yarns I like better, bring the needle size down a tad (to #35!), and try again.

Now, having said all that, here is what I have so far, with a knit border to keep the stockinette from curling.
"Artistic" shot:

And in other startitis news, I got some sock yarn from Knitpicks in brown and teal, as well as a self-striping blue, to make baby things. Rowan's booties came out so cute in Happy Feet that I decided to try a few other things in sock weight yarn. And I have several partials of really amazing handspun from midnightsky fibers that I want to use for a funkified scarf. I also ordered a skein of Cherry Tree Hill's Possum lace on deep discount at DBNY. And a few skeins of Organik from the Fibre Company (via Granola Yarn, my favorite "little" online yarn company). This is all assuming that I don't pick up one of the UFOs and start working on it, or embroider my Cosymakes hats, or clean up the stash, or ??????

Chemo Catch-up

DH had chemo #3 last week, finished his five days of megadoses of Prednisone, and is now dealing with the fallout from all that. Stomach pain that nothing touches, hoarseness, tingling fingers and toes (makes doing his job at the computer agonizing at times), continued pain in the location of a few of the tumors (though they are supposedly shrunk down now to almost nothing). So in other words, he feels pretty lousy. But between spoonfuls of rice this a.m., he told me that he has it good--he can still go running with friends, he has a comfortable home and his family around him, he works at home so doesn't have to be exposed to many germs, and he has good medical care. Hard to feel it's worth complaining about, perhaps, but it's still not an easy road, and he's only halfway through his treatment. We'll just have to keep on keeping on, while everyone we know sends us all the positive energy possible to support him through this. 8^)