Hello Freedom!!

I have met all my knitting deadlines! Really, no joke! I know, I can’t believe it either.

The Hooded Baby Sweater with zip up back is finished and is in my Mom’s hands to sew in a zipper. The wedding garter (Eloping), which I shared in my second to last post, now has elastic and is ready to be worn. The Sunday Swing Socks have been done for a few weeks. And finally, the dress for Minnie’s new doll is done (except for the button in the back…shhhh.) Here is a picture of her faux-American Girl Doll modeling it. I’m happy with how it turned out. I was rather liberal with following the pattern on this (wrong weight of yarn, wrong sizes of needles) so I kind of adapted as needed to make the dress work. I’m happy with the results. The pattern is the American Girl Doll Empire Waist Lace Dress by Elaine Phillips.

I feel so free! I have just two projects that are really in the works (not hibernating.) Neither of them have deadlines attached and so I’m feeling free to think about new projects and what I want to work on next that will be new and exciting. I do need to get back to the Traditional Gansey toe-up socks, but lets face it, who’s going to wear wool socks in the winter…I have some time for those. And the Lintilla for my Mom…will hold a bit longer. I think I will hold off on that until a car trip and I will give myself no other options…that is a sure way to yield results.

I have this yarn in my stash (Quince and Co.)

and think I might make this pattern. (Shaelyn by Leila Raabe)

I also have this yarn in my stash (Malabrigo)

and think I might make this pattern. (Snapdragon flip-tops by Ysolda Teague)

I also have oodles of Sunshine Yarns sock yarns in delicious colors that I should try out soon….so many choices!

On a different note…this week has brought me another kind of freedom! Freedom from unreliable vehicles! (Sort of) We will still have one not great vehicle but we traded in the worse of our two vehicles and bought a new to us car for me to drive! It is a 2010 Ford Fusion!! My husband bought it this morning, drove it today and wants it for one more day before it officially becomes my car! I’m so beyond thrilled. Ours is not a hybrid like the one pictures below…but otherwise…picture me in this car!

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Keeping Focused

It’s been nearly three weeks since I posted, but not because I didn’t want to. Every time I thought about posting I realized I’d be rehashing all the same stuff I’ve written about recently. I decided that my time would be better spent working on the projects I have hard and fast deadlines on. It seems that I have many projects with deadlines looming rather near all of a sudden. It is a classic case of  ‘Nicole taking on more than she might actually have time for.’  I’m being good though and rather than casting on new and enticing projects or working on projects with no real deadline, I’m focused on and working steadily toward completing what I already have on the needles. I have learned that I should steer clear of looking at patterns on Ravelry when I need to focus though. It makes me feel a little bit trapped when I have so much knitting to finish, but all I want to do is shop my stash for the perfect yarn to cast on something new.

In my last post I said I would finish the first of the Traditional Gansey Socks (which I did) and then go back to the Sunday Swing Socks (which I also did.) While I have posted pictures of the Traditional Gansey Sock in progress here is another picture of it on my foot. I love it and am so excited to cast on the second…but I must be patient. The only thing I’m less than thrilled with on the sock is the cast off. The pattern did not specify a cast off to use but the one I chose looks ugly, in my opinion.  I’m not sure yet if I’m going to attempt to rip it out and try another…sigh.

I cast on the second Sunday Swing Sock directly after I cast of the first Traditional Gansey Sock. I didn’t write down the date but I am fairly certain it was within a few days of my last post. So roughly, it took me two and a half weeks to do the second sock.  Here is a picture of how they turned out.

I need to get back to the Hooded Baby Sweater with Back Zipper now. I’m probably more than half way done with it and after sock knitting on tiny needles with very fine yarn the rest of the sweater should fly!

I have two other projects in my head that  have deadlines on them. Neither are started yet. I have yarn and patterns for both though. The first is for Minnie. Her sixth birthday is just around the corner. There is a box stashed under our bed with a VERY coveted doll in it. I am planning on knitting a dress for the doll. I’m not sure how impressed she’ll be with it, but it’ll be something to add to the doll’s wardrobe.  The other project is for my soon-to-be-sister-in-law. My brother is marrying a wonderful woman and I’m going to knit her a garter to wear for the big day (well, maybe two so there is one to throw and one to keep, if they take part in that tradition.)

I also need to get some yarn lined up for my nephew’s first birthday gift. I asked my sister if she would be interested in a Hooded Baby Sweater with Back Zipper for Baby J and she said yes. She should let me know if she has a color in mind or if she’d like to be surprised. I’m suddenly wondering if I already asked her this…

Sometimes I think I’m crazy to have so many projects going when my life isn’t exactly quiet, but I’m not sure I would have it any other way. I love the feeling of accomplishment each project brings. I love the little lessons and techniques that each one teaches me. Mostly, I love knitting gifts for my family and friends. I hope that each gift says to its recipient, on my behalf , “I love you so much that I made this just for you.”

Until next time…may your life include something that brings you as much joy as knitting brings to me!

This and That

Almost two weeks ago I finished the first of a pair of socks for my good friend. Most knitters would probably cast the second right on…not me. I know that I should do things that way, but I’m not most knitters. I always have at least two knitting projects going at once…if not many more. There is a method to my madness. I like to have choices. If something I’m working on is frustrating me it is nice to have something else to switch over to for a break from the frustrating project. I also like to always have at least one project that I can easily slip into my purse. Probably most importantly, I like to be able to keep all the things I’m working on interesting. By taking a little break from these socks to work on some other things they will feel fresh again when I cast on the second sock…very soon.

During my break from the Sunday Swing Socks I have been working on two things. I started the hooded baby sweater with back zipper by Sarah Punderson for Cal. I have made a similar sweater twice before and I must say this is a much better pattern. The hood was much too shallow on the other pattern and didn’t cover the baby’s head well. I love this hood on this pattern, it has such clever construction.

Also, I started working on my toe-up Traditional Gansey Socks again. I have turned the heel and am racing up the leg!! I probably won’t stop knitting socks from the cuff down now that I’ve discovered and figured out toe-up…but, wow!! I’m definitely a convert. I have never had a cuff down sock fit my foot as perfectly as this toe-up sock does!! I’m just a little bummed that I have to knit a whole other sock when I finish this one before I can wear them. Oh well, soon enough. I probably wouldn’t be able to wear them until the fall anyway.

And, as if I didn’t have enough to work on I got it in my head that I should try to make my own earrings. I tend to favor beaded earring that dangle and sparkle and realized that maybe I could save some money by making some for myself. Below are my first few attempts. They are okay…I’ll keep trying. I think I need more practice of making the wire loops. I do intend to wear these.

This Sunday is the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. I learned about the Titanic from a ‘learn to read’ book about Titanic my brother got for his sixth birthday. I can’t remember what he thought of the book but I was immediately fascinated and have since read many, many books on the topic. It still fascinates me today. I’ve been suggesting to my husband that we go see the movie in 3-D since it is back in the theater. I didn’t think he was going to agree to it, but today he asked if I could get a babysitter for Sunday so we can go see it. (We aren’t seeing it on Sunday because it is the anniversary but because he has to work on Saturday.) I’m so excited! It amazes me that something that happened 100 years ago still interests people so much today, but I definitely understand why.

Here’s a picture of my kids on Easter morning. Minnie’s sweater worked out perfectly with her dress and she wore it until around lunch time and decided she was too hot. Hope everyone had a lovely Easter holiday! Until next time…enjoy what makes you happy!

Start-itis has hit

I have start-itis; which is a well-known disease afflicting most knitters at various times. It makes them yearn to cast on every project they see and abandon the projects they were very recently in love with. For me it strikes when I’m unhappy or bored with my current projects. The only project I’m actively working on right now it the Taylor shrug. It has been going fine since I got past my difficulties with the instructions, but I’m bored with it. Twenty-five inches of an 8 row lace pattern just gets tedious. Maybe my real knitting issue right now is that I haven’t had as much time for it and every time I have to set it aside means more time to re-acclimate myself when I pick it back up. Not to mention, with all the pauses it feels like I’ve been working on this same thing FOREVER. I might be happier if I was working on the Toe-Up socks or the mystery yellow project or even finishing up the Lintilla Shawl for my Mom…but I have a real deadline on the shrug…maybe that is really why I’m bumming…I kind of hate deadlines. Sometimes start-itis is a good thing though (as long as I’m being strict with myself.) It forces me to get busy on projects so that I can start new things.

I did make my son “LJ” some of the Sasquatch Slippers I made for Minnie. We picked out the yarn together at Jo-Ann’s last Saturday. I knit both slippers that same day. I think they turned out cute. LJ likes them…my husband thinks they are a little bright. I finished the second slipper while we watched Hugo with the kids. What a neat movie! If you haven’t seen it I would highly recommend it!

My Reading:

As I’ve had very little time for knitting…I’ve also had very little time for reading. However, I work 40 hours a week and enjoy podcasts and audiobooks while I work. The kids and I went to the library over the weekend and I did a little browsing for some new audiobooks to try. I ended up in the Young Adult section. Sometimes I run across books I loved as a kid/teenager on CD and check them out to listen to. This time I stumbled across an author I’d never heard of before. Stephanie Perkins has two books that were published since 2010. The cute cover illustrations is what got me to try them. I have listened to both and found them to be absolutely delightful and excellent departures from the usual formula that teenage romance books follow. I am not ashamed to say that I still enjoy some YA fiction as an adult. I love that they are mostly happy and skim over the nastier parts of life. Oh, and the romance!!! Stephanie Perkin’s books are called, “Anna and the French Kiss” and “Lola And The Boy Next Door.” She has a third book coming out later this year (I think) and I’m already looking forward to it.

Until next time happy knitting or reading or whatever. Hopefully I will have more knitting to share soon.

My Source of Patience

Almost every time someone notices me knitting and comments on it they say the same thing, “I would never have the patience to do that.”

I find it very ironic because knitting is my biggest source of patience. By nature I am a worrier. If there is nothing to worry about I will find something. I’m quite certain I inherited that tendency from my Grandma, she is one of the best worriers I know. If I have a knitting project on-hand (which I usually do) I can be much more content with worrying or waiting or whatever. I have come to LOVE car trips…just think of the hours worth of uninterrupted knitting time! Waiting rooms are far more entertaining when I’m happily knitting on something. I have even knit on my commute home while literally sitting in traffic. (No, I would NEVER knit in a moving car while I’m driving.)

I’m sure that when people tell me that they wouldn’t have the patience to knit they are looking at how many individual stitches it takes to make something substantial and I can kind of understand. In a world of instant gratification why would you spend hours upon hours making something you can buy at the store? For me it is the process that goes into it and the satisfaction of creating something and of course, the patience it brings me.

My Knitting:

I finished the Multnomah Shawl over the weekend. It is gorgeous and I love it and I’m not sure it is destined to be mine. I knit it thinking that it was mine. Now that it is finished I’m not sure it will match any of my wardrobe. I think it is actually begging to belong to my Mom.

I have made good progress on the Traditional Gansey Socks. They are turning out a normal size, which is what failed in my previous attempt. I love the yarn I chose, but the color is pooling, which is frustrating me.

This lovely yarn is for a mystery project. I have no idea if the person who this project is for reads my blog so I’m going to refrain from doing more than showing you this pretty yellow Malabrigo Yarn. Let your imaginations run wild!

I have been thinking that I would knit my daughter a shrug for Easter. Last year I made her an ivory shrug, which she liked and wore, but wondered why it was just “white.” I have had this yarn set aside for this year’s Easter shrug, but I’m not sure I think it matches her dress well enough. What do you think?

Happy Valentine’s Day to all! Here is hoping it was a wonderful day for everyone. My husband and I won’t see each other today, but he did leave me a nice gift to come home from work to. Actually it was the perfect gift ~ coffee, chocolate and a gift card for yarn!!

What’s In a Name?

I thought I would start this entry out by explaining why I chose to name my blog Night Owl Knitter. Those of you reading this who are family or close friends are probably thinking…”well, duh.” I have always been a night owl. I love to stay up late and get things accomplished, usually while watching sitcom reruns, crime television or the Food Network. I have never been, nor will I ever be a morning person. However, as I start work, Monday through Friday, 35 miles from home, at 7:45 am; I would probably really benefit from getting the night owl thing under control. If I’m being honest though, it is not something I ever really intend to change. Right now I work days and my husband works nights. My time at night after my kids are asleep in bed is the ONLY me time I get and I thrive on me time. I tried for a while to go to bed at a respectable time and forgo the time that is mine and the end result was a more crabby and much less satisfied version of me.

Usually during this night owl time knitting plays a role. Some nights it is my main objective and other nights it fills in the spaces between Words with friends online and reading…or whatever. This week my knitting has been somewhat interrupted by Stephanie Plum and her bounty hunter escapades. For those who might not know, Stephanie Plum is the heroine of a series of mystery books by Janet Evanovich. The first book, One for the Money, was published all the way back in 1994, so I’m a little late to this party, but enjoying myself completely anyway. I’m almost done with the second in the series and intend to cruise through all 18 books (and 4 special holiday books) until I’m caught up.

My Knitting:

I am pretty sure that I said in my last blog post that I would be done with my Multnomah Shawl by Monday, February 6th…well, I lied. I had every intention of whipping through the rest of it, but a stomach bug had other ideas for me on Sunday. I am on the eighth repeat of ten in the lace section. I have less than twelve rows left to finish knitting, unless I decide to do a few more of the lace repeats to use up more of the yarn and make the shawl longer. While twelve rows doesn’t sound like much, the rows have gotten awfully long.

The only other knitting I have worked on since my last post was the second attempt at knitting socks toe-up that I cast on last night. I was waiting for my smaller needles to arrive before I started. Just to give myself a fresh start I also switched yarn for something less slippery and I’m using a pattern from Wendy D. Johnson’s book Socks From the Toes Up! While I probably would have succeeded with the first pattern I tried just by changing the needles and the yarn I thought it might be beneficial to use a pattern that was written for someone who is new to toe up sock knitting. This pattern and the book it comes from are excellent. Lots of instructions and lots of options for the different components of sock knitting. (I think there are 5 different toe up cast ons!) The pattern I chose is Traditional Gansey Socks. I’m knitting them in some gorgeous yarn I bought on Etsy from Indieway Yarns.

Until next time happy knitting…or whatever it is that fills your you time.

P.S.  Sorry the picture quality is a little lacking this time, I took these pictures on my phone.

A Lesson in Each Failure

I love to knit socks. To me they are kind of perfect in so many ways. My top three reasons for enjoying sock knitting are:
1.) Socks take lots of knitting with a relatively small amount of yardage (more bang for your buck.)
2.) Portability! I almost always have a sock project going because of how easy it is for me to grab my project bag and take it along anywhere!
3.) Socks are a fantastic canvas for colors and textures that I would NEVER make a sweater with. I love the wildly bright and variegated sock yarns that are out there, but wouldn’t commit to wearing them except on my feet.

So far all the socks I have knit (6.5 pairs) have been from the cuff down. I decided last week that I really needed to learn to knit socks from the toe up. I wasn’t unhappy with the technique I’d been using. It had more to do with running across several sock patterns I really liked that used toe-up. Rather than trying to convert the pattern to be knit cuff down I thought I’d give some toe-up socks a try.

In the end the socks were a massive failure. But, I won’t say that it was a mistake to start them. I accomplished my actual goal…learning how to knit socks toe-up. The problem wasn’t that I didn’t understand the technique or that for some reason it didn’t work, it was a gauge issue. My needles were too large (I think) and my yarn too slippery and the socks would fit someone who’s feet were roughly as wide as they were long (I personally don’t know anyone with feet fitting that description.) I could tell early on that they were turning out oddly wide but persisted until I turned the heel and had made it about a half-inch up the leg before calling it quits so I’d at least get the full benefit of my experiment’s goal. I did try to just stop knitting the foot early and move onto the heel in hopes that they would stretch longer and use up some of that width to fit my feet…but they were just weirdly wrong.

I have ordered some smaller circular needles and will try toe up again, perhaps with some stickier yarn when they arrive.

The pattern I used was Aradena. The pattern assumed that you had experience knitting toe-up before, but did include excellent links to help if you hadn’t. I used Silver’s Sock Class online to help me. It was not a link that was mentioned in the pattern, but I remembered looking at before. It was excellent!

What I am knitting:

The Multnomah Shawl is going well. I made it to the lace portion and it is totally addicting. I keep wanting to knit another row to watch the lace pattern as it appears. I’m on the third lace repeat out of ten. I imagine I will finish this up before next Monday.

The Beekeeper’s Quilt is not something I will report on every time I post a new blog entry as it will be such a long-term project. I am up to 10 hexipuffs! I did go through all of my yarn stash and pull out odds and ends of left over sock/fingering weight yarn to use for this and I’ll slowly work through all of it. It feels oddly liberating to finally have a use for this yarn since I don’t seem capable of just throwing it away. (Gasp!!)

The Lintilla for my Mom is still hibernating but I have resolved to finish it. I am trying to work out some sort of promise/bribe with myself to motivate me into finishing this up. Like, no starting any new projects until this has been finished or no buying any new yarn until this is finished…we’ll see.

My husband wore his new socks all day yesterday and he seemed to enjoy them. They looked like they fit well too! I was dying to ask him about them, but resisted.

Happy Knitting!