Thursday, December 28, 2006

2006 Knitting Year in Review

At the one year anniversary of this blog (already?) and as the year 2006 draws to a close, I'd like to share my reflections.

In a year that brought wonderful gains and immeasurable loss, knitting has been a constant calming influence.

First of all, if it weren't for this blog, I wouldn't have met so many wonderful knitters and bloggers, and I know that I never would have accomplished so much in my knitting skills and projects. Some bloggers I've met in person, wonderful people all, and some I have yet to meet, and I look forward to that day as well.

When this year started, I had barely moved on from rectangular scarves and square baby blankets. Oh, how things have changed.

This year I learned how to knit hats. My first hat was for the Knitting Olympics. (*Olympic Rowan Aura Hat). That was such a fun way to feel like a community among some 4,000+ knitters. I know it was a pain for the Yarn Harlot to organize, but I had a blast. I went on to make a total of 11 hats this year. Here are the links to the others:
*Rowan Aura Hat for A.
*Sproutie's hat
*Natey's Noro Hat
*The Count's Noro Hat
*ZimDee's Noro Hat
*Mother's Noro Hat
*Natey's red wool hat
*Natey's black cotton hat
*The Count's If-You-Want-To Hat
*ZimDee's Fishie Hat

This is the year I also learned how to make socks. Thanks to Amanda's Mock Croc Sock knitalong, I was on my way. And addicted. I might as well state that right up front. There are so many beautiful sock yarns out there, my head starts spinning just thinking about it. Here are the socks I made this year:
*Mock Croc Socks
*International Socks of Doom for Sock Wars (for Mamie)
*Second Pair of Sock Wars International Socks of Doom for Mandy
*Third Pair of Sock Wars International Socks of Doom for Moa
*KnitPicks Lace Socks (teaser)
*Stephanie's Walking Away Socks

I knit three sweaters and one pair of leggings for my little baby, who is now 18 months old.
*Sproutie's Striped Sweater
*Sproutie's 1st Bday sweater
*Sproutie's leggings outfit

I knit a sweater for his sweet older sister.
*Girlfriend's Swing Coat Sweater

I knit two baby blankets, one of which you'll see here:
*Rosie's baby blanket

four scarves:
*Tim's Illusion Scarf
*Silk Daisy Stitch Scarf
*State Fair Daisy Silk Scarf

I knit 6 bags
*Kim's Picot bag
*Blue Picot Bag for Fairs
*Steph's Picot Bag
*Diane's Picot Bag
*Passport Pouch
*Angela's Chocolate Picot Bag

and a pair of clogs
*Poo-dee Clogs No More.

Unfinished objects started this year but waiting for me to pick them up again include a sweater for my sister, a cardigan sweater for myself, a pair of socks for my mother-in-law, and two pairs of socks for myself. I consider that fairly manageable.

I participated in several knitting swaps and enjoyed most of them. I met some great friends that way.

My knitting goals for the upcoming year are to finish the above mentioned unfinished objects and start a few more. I'd love to learn colorwork this year, intarsia and fair isle. I want to knit a lot more socks, a few sweaters, and a few scarves.

Another goal of mine is to get started on the road to becoming a Master Knitter through the Knitting Guild Association. I've received my paperwork in the Basics, Basics, Basics course (a pre-cursor to the actual program) and I will keep you posted on my progress here on my blog.

My favorite knitted project of 2006 is one I didn't even write about on my blog. I don't know why. Maybe it's because it seemed so effortless. I needed a scarf that matched my pink coat, and one morning I went out and bought the yarn and the needles to make it. I sat down that afternoon with a pot of tea and literally whipped it out, and wore it out to dinner that night. I love it because to me it's so striking that it catches my eye every time I pass by it, it served a specific purpose, and the buying and making of it was so pleasurable. (I know some of you thought I miscounted above when I said that I made 4 scarves and only listed 3. Thought you had me there, didn't you?)

The funny thing is, out of all the complicated stitch patterns and new techniques I've learned, and out of all the luxurious yarns I've run my fingers through this year (merino wool, 100% silk, cashmere and cashmere blends), my most favorite knitted object of this year is a simple garter stitch scarf knit with acrylic yarn and fun fur. I kind of like the irony of that. You can take the girl out of the ghetto, but you can't take the ghetto out of the girl. How appropriate. Here are some pictures of the scarf that won the distinction of favorite knitted object of 2006:
My wish for you all in the coming year, my dear friends, is peace and love and happiness, and just enough new yarns and patterns out there to always keep you wanting more.

All my love, Katrina

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

zimdee knits

Here are some pictures of the last of the Christmas knitting, finished last week.

The first is the hat the Count said I could knit for him, "if you want", modelled once again by the photogenic ZimDee:The hat was knit with Mission Falls 1824 Wool (100% Merino Wool) in color 16, Thyme, since green is the Count's favorite color. This is the first time I've worked with Mission Falls yarn, and it won't be my last, as long as they continue to manufacture it, that is. Isn't the stitch detail wonderful? And the Count really likes it. This hat will not go unloved.

Next I wanted to knit a hat for Zim, since he had so graciously modelled hats for everyone else. I started this one, and left it on the counter to go get the mail. When I returned, this is what I came upon: ZimDee said, "Yook, Mom, I knitting." I asked him what he was knitting, and he said a fish, which is his favorite kind of toy. He didn't even mess up any of the stitches. I'll make a knitter out of him yet.

Here is the finished product: And this time ZimDee gets to keep it!
His hat was knit with Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran (55% merino wool, 33% microfibre, 12% cashmere) in color 104, Pale Grey. ZimDee gets a lot of compliments on his hats at preschool. He can't wait to go back and show this one off.

Speaking of Debbie Bliss yarns: I don't buy into the hooey that a competitor claimed that her yarns lacked the fiber content listed on the label. I knit four hats in as many days with four different fiber contents. The first was with wool/cotton, the next was wool/mohair, the third was merino wool and the fourth was merino/microfibre/cashmere. Guess which was the softest and most luxurious? The Cashmerino by far. If they are fudging with the fiber content over there, they're doing a fabulous job of it. I for one will continue to use her yarns, as long as they continue to be soft and pretty and knit up as nice as they always have.

I just love how fast and easy hats are to knit. And ZimDee's hat was the project that marked the phenomenon for me of not having to look at the project while I was knitting it. I've heard many experienced knitters say that if they are doing straight stockinette that they can watch TV or a movie without looking down, and it was hard for me to believe. But it happened to me without even realizing it. I feel like I've graduated or something. Is there a diploma out there for knitters who don't have to watch their knitting? I'd like to put one on my wall.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Merry Christmas

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas day, filled with joy and laughter. I spent the day squeezing some brown-eyed angels. And knitting. A peaceful day.

And this was the best present of all: my three babies playing together on Christmas morning. I came around the corner when I heard some giggling, and here is what I found.This is what Christmas memories are made of.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Merry Christmas, David

Merry Christmas, David.

MP3 File
I will always see you as laughing, your eyes twinkling with wonder and mischief.

I love you and I miss you.

For always, Your Sis, Katrina

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Knitted Christmas Gifts

I wasn't able to knit all the Christmas gifts that I wanted to this year, but I am proud of myself for what I did get done. These knitted gifts are now on their way to their beloved recipients in Chicago.

First is this pair of socks for my beautiful niece Stephanie. Pattern: Walking Away socks from Fiber Trends.
The lace that runs down the back of the sock is exquisite. I will definitely be using this pattern in the future for socks for myself and my loved ones.
Modifications: I did have to change the pattern somewhat at the end of the ribbing, or the top of the foot portion would have been too wide. I made some decreases and I was good to go. Since this is just my 6th pair of finished socks, I still chalk this up to inexperience.
Yarn: Koigu KPPPM #1308 (100% Merino Wool). This beautiful yarn has shades of pink, burgundy, and browns. Perfect for Stephanie. These are some of the prettiest pinks I've ever seen. I've heard talk of people saying that Koigu is overrated. Frankly, I don't know what they've been smoking. This yarn is a dream to work with. Soft, strong, doesn't split, and is the colors are exquisite. I love it.
Needles: Size 2 Knit Picks circulars using the Magic Loop Method. Knit Picks has the interchangeable Options needles, which I would highly recommend. But those start at size 4. The smaller sizes of 0-3 are sold fully assembled and are very reasonably priced. The cable is flexible without being too wimpy. Did I mention that the cable is purple? Fun. The join is smooth. No, I don't get a commission for talking about how much I like the needles. I'm just calling it like I see it.
On a side note: I know that sock blockers can be outrageously priced, but they are probably one of the best knitting investments I've ever made. They give the sock a great shape and add that extra finishing touch.
Overall: I'm very happy with these socks and I hope they fit! They are also my December entry in Chrissy's Sock-a-Month 2.

Next are two hats for my sweet nephew Natey. You may recall that I knit a hat for him with Noro Silk Garden earlier this year (see sidebar). Unfortunately, it was too big. So when I asked him what he wanted for Christmas this year, he was very specific. He said he wanted two hats: a black one knit with cotton and a red one knit with wool. Not fire engine red, or orange red, but blood red. And could I please make them a bit smaller than the first hat? (He also asked for black house socks, but I ran out of time for Christmas. I'm thinking birthday...) I was thrilled that my nephew in his 20's was so specific about exactly what he wanted, down to color and fiber. Not that it matters, but he dates girls. He's just very fashion-conscious.

Here is my ZimDee modelling the two hats. First is the red one:Pattern: My own. 5 rows of k1,p1 ribbing followed by straight stockinette for the rest of the cap.
Yarn: Lamb's Pride Bulky (80% Wool, 20% Mohair) in Blue Blood.
Needles: Size 10 1/2 Addi Turbo circulars, 16 inch; size 10 1/2 bamboo double points.
Notes: A very quick knit.

And the black hat:Pattern: My own. 9 rows of seed stitch border followed by straight stockinette to finish the cap.
Yarn: Rowan Wool Cotton, color: ink. This is a classic yarn and one of my favorites. I love the stitch detail it provides.
Needles: Size 5 Addi Turbo circulars, 16 inch. Size 5 bamboo double points.
Notes: I hope it fits! If not, I can knit him a bigger one and he can send the smaller one back. I know a little boy who wouldn't mind wearing it again.

Here are the hats ready to mail:You know, of course, that my Christmas knitting is not quite done. Now that ZimDee got to try on some new hats, how can I not knit one or two for him? And of course, the Count saw me knitting hats and said the classic line, "You can knit a hat for me if you want." Ooookay. Believe me, I love it when my family wants me to knit something for them, but the Noro hat I knit for the Count earlier this year (see sidebar) went unloved and unworn. When I asked the Count where it was, he pulled the classic man mind-bending: "I don't remember that." If I hadn't have knit it myself and put a picture on my blog, I might have fallen for that. But after searching high and low, no hat was found. So it looks like I'll still be knitting some hats for some boys to go in their Christmas stockings. And you know I will be loving every minute of it.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Oh. My. Gosh.

That's all I can say. Oh my gosh. My Secret Pal has spoiled me, but good. She told me that a special package was on its way, but I had no idea how special. Take a gander at this:Her adorable card said she wanted to send chocolate to help me knit through the holiday. Bless her heart. Christmas is going to be tough this year, there's no getting around that. But knowing there are people out there who don't even know me yet still care about me touches my heart.

Just look at this plunder of Koigu in rich blues. Looking at this yarn reminds me of the deep blue sea. Gorgeous. And then there is the handpainted yarn from Perchance to Knit in the exclusive SP9 colorway of Foxtrot, complete with crystal stitch marker.But that's not all. Next is the Anemoi Mittens pattern from the ever-talented Eunny Jang, with everything I need to make them (Size 1 AND 2 Bamboo double pointed needles, Knit Picks Gloss yarn in Cocoa and Serengeti, and the most adorable sterling silver and Swarovski crystal stitch markers that I've ever seen).
And that's STILL not all. There was also the most beautiful velvet brown KnitOne bag, lined with light blue silk, which includes a matching silk accessory bag. I am utterly speechless. And the bag wasn't empty, either. It was stuffed full of all sorts of knitting goodness: a very elegant Oriental silk needle case, size 7 birch straight needles, size 2 metallic Knit Picks double pointed needles, a Snip'n ruler, an adorable brown and pink zippered needle case, a Yarn Clam (which I can't wait to try--it's the clear object on top of the brown needle case). Also three skeins of Tough Stuff Libertina Yarn (100% Falklands Wool) in Pimpernel colorway, just enough to make a pair of socks.
There was also some mint milk chocolate Hershey's Sticks, some Eucerin hand lotion, some bath effervescents, and the cutest little post-its in the shape of the letter K. Whew!

I am ever so grateful, Secret Pal. Words cannot begin describe how overwhelmed I am by your generosity.

I can't wait to meet you!

Friday, December 15, 2006

Santa Picture

Here is our Santa picture this year. It was Sproutie's year to cry, based on how Girlie and ZimDee reacted during their one-year-of-age Christmas photo with Santa. But he did pretty good. I think because sissy and brother were right beside him, and mom and dad were in front of him. No smile, but at least no crying. His right hand looks like it's just hanging there, but in reality he had just thrown his baby Piglet toy in protest when the picture was snapped.Each of the kids have a special baby toy that they've brought with them to Santa pictures every year. For Girlie it's a fat little Pooh Bear. You can see the top of his head in the photo. For ZimDee it's a little tan floppy dog we named Hobie. He's not holding it because it was all he could do to stay awake for the picture. Hobie is under Pooh Bear in Girlie's lap. Girlie also brought an extra puppy this year, which is under Hobie and Pooh. I think this animal is putting in a one-time only showing. And of course, little Piglet was thrown from the floppy arms of our little Sprout.

By the time it was our turn in line, wouldn't you know it, ZimDee had fallen asleep. So if he looks like he doesn't know where he is, it's because he doesn't.

And Girlie just loves the camera. That's her camera face, maybe you've seen it before.

I just love how these pictures capture a moment in time of my babies' personalities.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Back from the Beyond

I've been distracted by some business that took all of my mental and physical energy. Trust me, we do not want to even go there. The good news is that I'm back, my friends. I've missed every one of you.

I got my first check in the mail today from Knit Picks for test knitting the socks for the catalog. Just in time for Christmas.

I also heard from my Secret Pal that her package is on its way to me. I’m very excited to get it. She already sent me a gift certificate for Kpixie. How spoiled am I?

The shiner is almost all gone. Life is good.

My love to all.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Christmas Tree

Last Sunday the Count and I packed up the kids and went to Sleighbells Christmas Tree Farm in Sherwood, Oregon. (I always wanted to rent a post office box in the town of Sherwood and give my address out as Sherwood Forest and see if the mail would actually be delivered or not...but I digress).Here is Sproutie (with his shiner-inducing pacifier, no less) looking adorable in his new Christmas coat among the snow-flocked Christmas trees. The flocking was gorgeous, but a little out of our budget this year. Besides, there's nothing like the smell of a freshly cut natural Christmas tree in your house.

Here is my beautiful family among the trees: The farm was really pretty, with rolling hills of different kinds of trees: Douglas Fir, Blue Spruce, and Noble Fir. Here are Girlie and ZimDee looking for just the right tree for us:And here I am with my babies, standing next to the 7 feet tall Noble Fir we finally chose. I think it is the most beautiful Christmas tree I've ever seen.
And here I am in front of the tree in our house, lopsidedly but most proudly decorated by my Girlie. She takes such special pleasure in putting the garlands and ornaments on the tree that it's now become our tradition.
As you can see, there is still a trace of the shiner lil' Sproutie gave me. I'm also showing off my new hair color for the holidays. She went pretty dark this time. Maybe it'll make me look a little bit more like my children.

I got ahold of the complete DVD one-season series of a little show called Wonderfalls, and am almost through the third and last disc. Apparently people really liked the show, though only three episodes aired on TV. It's ok. Not horrible. Not great.

I've been busy knitting for my wonderful niece Stephanie. It's a Christmas present, so I'll have to show you later so I don't spoil the surprise. This present was supposed to be for her birthday last month, but I ended up giving her the present I bought for her for Christmas on her birthday instead. I'm really liking how it is turning out.

I sent the lace socks off to Knit Picks and heard back from the design coordinator that she received them yesterday. She had one comment about them: "Stunning." That really made my day.

Things have been really up and down. It's been hard not knowing how I will react to anything. Sometimes I'll be truly fine, then five minutes later I'm not. This unpredictability in my own self is a little startling. The Count has been so supportive, and my kids have been wonderful. They are all keeping me grounded in the busy work of life.

I miss my brother every day. I still don't think I can wrap my mind around the fact that I live in a world that doesn't have him in it. I don't think I will ever get used to that, as long as I live.

Thank you to all who have been checking in with me to see how I've been doing. It truly means so much to me.