Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Goodbye 2013!

This has been an interesting year.  I've had some down times, and then some pleasant surprises.
All in all, it's another typical year.
I have, however, spent to most time without power and heat than ever before in my life.
Here in Toronto, we had a massive ice storm.  Transformers blew up... and most of the city was without power.  My apartment went  from 9pm Saturday (the 21st) to the 24 around 5pm without power.  I managed to stay with a friend, or hopped on down to the cafe to stay warm a few nights.  My heat, however was out until last night.  So some nights, once power was back, were spent with the oven door cracked open to try to heat up the place and wearing 3 blankets on top of sweats.
The first night we still had emergency lights...
But within a few hours they were out

The view from the front steps was something out of an eerie movie...

And in areas that had some power I managed to get a poor photo of a tree...

Some of you may recall, I was in touch with someone who I hadn't talked to in quite some time, but was weary of how long it would last.
Things have been great! We've hung out quite a few times, and even managed to stay warm on a night of silly blackout craziness.  All in all, I'm glad I followed through, as I'd certainly missed having them in my life.
One can't help but feel optimistic around them, and I don't see them vanishing any time soon - a good sign!

 I got a few beading/jewelry projects done...
I promised to show pictures of my secret Santa gift, so here he is, the dragon in all his glory.  I should have put it on a different necklace, but it's done and over with - no way to change it now!

And a star, I made for a gift - I'm not sure if it's been received, but it likely will be by the time this is read.

And my total complete projects for 2013 is a total of 32.  Not super high, but 2014 starts in less than an hour, so we can start fresh projects!
I seem to have fallen 3 short of my 12 shawls this year - I have a few on the go still, and one that's less than six rows from casting off - but I ran out of yarn; so it would seem I will just have to try again next year.

Now, I've never made a New Year's Resolution before...
But it seems appropriate to this year!

1. Spend more time with my parents:  I don't usually find time to visit them often enough, and when I have time it's usually when they're busy or I'm strapped for busfare.

2. 12 shawls in 2014.  This means start to finish - so any shawls I started this year won't count!

3. Downsize: Get rid of clothes and things don't wear or use anymore - and hopefully keep my apartment free of clutter and useless things once I have!

4. Take a metal clay class at work: I don't know much about metal, and I really think I should take a class to better my knowledge in this area.

5. Try to be more patient: Now, those of you who know me may be thinking "she's one of the most patient people in the world" - and I am... with other people. So maybe a little more may be useful, maybe then I'll be a little less frustrated if people take all day to get back to me, if something takes me longer to do than it should, or if I'm just having a down day.

6. Expand my crafts: Try new techniques, jump into something I think I may not normally like.  Sure, #4 could go under this category, but that is a specific goal I'd like to achieve.

7. Try to blog more! I feel like I rarely have bloggable moments, however I certainly do. And perhaps get outside my comfort zone and let this blog into more than my crafts.

8. Punctuality: I'm forever feeling like I'm running out of time, and as a result sometimes run late.  I plan on figuring out how to better manage my mind so my time is better spent.

9. It's a sleep thing: Anyone who knows me knows I don't sleep well... or at all some times.  I need to look into more ways to get sleep, because if I don't? I'll keep running myself into the ground.  Creative or not, sometimes brains need rest.

10. Physical Maintenance: As I've gotten older, I've put on a little bit of chub.  Now, I'm skinny, and a healthy weight, but lack of exercise and actually doing things the past year or so has left me feeling groggy and unfit.  So I plan on making a wii fit program and sticking to it - even if it's only one day a week for half an hour, that's an extra half hour I'm not sitting on my butt watching tv!

I hope everyone has a safe and happy new year,
Goodbye 2013, Hello 2014!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Wandering Amongst the Dancing Shadows

I've been sick well over a week now, and at this point I'm crawling in my skin.  I just want to be better already!

I haven't had much time to knit, my advent calender is falling behind.  I've managed to finish one of the unlovable socks, and the toe of the new socks I planned on knitting.

I got 98% through the tattered shawl, then I ran out of yarn - 6 rows from the cast off.

I finally managed to get pictures of my Calm sweater, and the Strange Magic Cowl

I definitely plan to re-knit the calm sweater again in a larger size, as this one is a bit short and not as flowy as I'd like.
I had planned on making a few of the cowls for numerous Christmas gifts, however doesn't look like I'll have the time - thankfully, they're for people I won't be seeing for a while after.

I've recently been in contact with someone who I haven't talked to in quite a while.  Part of me is still quite uncertain how this will end, or play out.  The optimist in me, the part of me that sees the good in everything, wants to think it won't end poorly.  The realist in me thinks there is always a possibility for history to repeat itself - and boy, has it been recently - so nothing will really surprise me... except if things work out for the better, then I'll be down right floored.

I hope to finish some bead projects soon, I have enough to fill a good full day... but inspiration has left me for someone more deserving.

Today... Tonight... I feel like wandering amongst the dancing shadows.  The ones that play amid the moonlight, between the trees.  I want to dance an eerie dance, let the faeries lead the way.  Breathe in the life surrounding me, and exhale the death in my soul. I want to cast off the chains that bind me to this earth and move freely amidst the stars... Follow my heart and love the in the night.... But mainly breathe.  Just breathe.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Another Day Down

It's time for all good little knitters to be in bed... I'm not one today.

Despite being sick, I managed to get a fair amount of knitting done.
I finished today's portion of the Advent scarf:

I only needed to change the decrease on the first row of the spacer to an increase, and the rest was was written.

I worked on the unlovable sock - I'm having a hard time falling for the design the yarn is settling into - and I'm just past the heel on the first sock.  It's going to be a real struggle to keep myself on track and get this pair done for Christmas.

I may have to run to the yarn store down the street and see if I can find something a little more loveable, for my own sanity!  I should have done the heels and toes in a different skein, but I don't currently have any in the same weight that would compliment the yarn being used.

I started another Christmas gift today - this one is possibly the most important, because my Tattered shawl is being held hostage until the ransom of their own tattered scarf has been paid.
I made a fair dent in this one, hopefully I'll be able to get it done and into the Christmas box by the weekend.
Sure, it doesn't look like much, but I'm about 56 rows in.  Once I make more progress I'll update on it.

I have a tendency of when I'm sick changing this to make me feel better.
I've already somewhat rearranged the living room (and bedroom a week or so ago), so I decided to update my hair.

It was pretty washed out and faded, you can barely see the pink in it anymore.  I mixed up some new custom dye, and didn't bother with re-dyeing the black, or re-bleaching, just slapped it on and covered it up.  I'll update with the new colour tomorrow; I'm aiming for a deep luscious colour.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Advent Calender Scarf

As soon as I was curled up watching Sleepy Hollow last night, the last thing I wanted to do was knit from a chart.  I was offered a pleasant alternative:

Cuddles with my little ginger.  Phoenix and I cuddled up for the entire movie, he was content just to be pet.
It was just as well as I started to feel a little under the weather. After the movie,  I went through my stash in hopes of finding an appropriate yarn for the advent calender scarf.  Originally, I wanted to use my Skinny Bugga - I have a one of a kins skein - but didn't want to risk that even doing the 49 stitch version I may not have enough to finish.  I finally decided on using Mary Maxim Mohair Glitter in Sea Spray.

I originally bought it to make one of The Dark House Collection mohair projects, but after my petty attempt of a previous mohair sweater that had to be seamed, I decided to hold off - which freed up the skeins I had.  I'll be able to get more of the glitter yarn anyway - and I have more in other colourways and brands.

So after pulling it out of my TTC Knit-along stash, I looked up if any modifications were needed for the 49 stitch version and cast on.
Day 1 didn't really require any modifications, since it's simply less repeats.
I used Copperlined Amethyst size 6/0 Czech beads, they seem to compliment each colour in the skien - and they were already in my bead stash.

I continued with day 2
There were numerous modifications noted, some involving increasing, others decreasing - I went for the simplest approach.  Instead of the purl 2 in the pattern, I simply purled 3 in each section.
The third clue was up - Germany is a 6 hour time difference from here, so the next day is published well before night here.  I looked over the pattern, and read the modifications required, but left it at that.  I queued another movie on netflix (Blair Witch Project), piled blankets on my 'couch' and snuggled in with the cats.  After the movie, feeling groggy and strained, I decided to drag myself off to bed.

Today has been a fairly uneventful day. I had some snuggles with Demon:

Then knit up clue 3 for the Advent Scarf:
 The original pattern (on 103 stitches) was to increase to 104, where as the 49 stitch version would come to 48 stitches, so instead of the increase on the 8th row of the spacer I decreased in the center of that row.  The rest of the clue was knit as written.  I really like the little leaf motif, and the yarn really seems to give it great definition.  None of the days have been blocked yet - I think I'll wait until I've knit the full 24 days before blocking.

Day 4 is already out, but I'm debating if I should knit it when it`s released, or wait until midnight my time.  I'm thinking as long as it's after midnight my time, I may as well knit the day and once I'm finished have my chocolate from my advent wall calender!

Interested in making your own Advent Calender Scarf? Get each day here!  A pattern page is also available on Ravelry.

Since finishing, I've had some time to surf the net with Phoenix and have a nice coffee,
Leafed through some of my knitting magazines and yearned for some yummy yarn to knit some cardigans in (not that I'll end up making any of them, I don't think I have the attention span for them just yet), then managed to have the rare double cuddle - Demon on my lap, and Phoenix beside me.  These cats are civil at best towards each other, so having them so close together is a real treat - usually happens on two occasions, when I'm sick or when I haven't got out of bed yet.

I'm still contemplating my projects for tonight.  I have a simple lace hat I've had on the needles for goddess knows how long - another forgotten project - though I'm itching to finish my Tempest sweater.  I really should be working on Christmas presents, but I really don't feel up to it - of course after waking up, my throat was sore and tender; I think I may have a case of strep throat.

Forgotten Projects

I went on a bit of a cleaning and reorganizing spree.  I cleared out my knitting corner which had yarn in bags and half finished projects lying around, and I moved some furniture.

After sorting through my skeins, I found a forgotten project - a mystery knit-along hat to which I had all the clues, but only had knit the first 3.  A few other projects that I decided to frog and the single socks I've yet to knit the mates for (Damn SSS!).

I didn't get much knitting done today, but I at least have a bit of a cleaner environment to work in.
I suspect tomorrow I'll do a bit more cleaning and reorganizing as well.  I still have far too many Christmas gifts to knit, and there aren't many in the Christmas box.  This is going to be a rush knit year!

Let It Snow hat:

This is the forgotten hat mentioned above.  I knit 2 rounds before remembering I didn't have a before picture!  I hope to finish this one before bed, and send it straight into the Christmas box.  This hat is now available for purchase on Ravelry (it was a July MKAL).  Let It Snow Hat - for only $3.00!

Racing Socks:
This is the progress I've made on the sock.  Like I said, I haven't done much knitting today - in fact it's a bit pathetic, but I'll be able to settle in tomorrow and knit some more in the evening.  It currently measures 4", another 2.5" before the gusset for the heel.

Sweater Envy!
I've forever envious of knitters who seem to make numerous sweaters throughout the year - I've only ever finished one full adult sweater, but always yearn for my own cushy handknit luxury ones.  With that in mind, I  recently bought another 2 skeins of Tosh Sock to finish my Tempest Cardigan.  I made a few modifications - mainly lengthened the sleeves (which is why I ran out of yarn!).  Anyway, I cast on in Flash Dance and Lepidoptra back in June - this project seems to be put on hold a lot, then worked on for a good chunk, then put on hold again (for details on how my progress has been, see here.)  Sadly, I don't have a picture of any of the pieces - I'll upload some when blocking the pieces.

A word on beading!
We're doing a Secret Santa at work, and we're to make a handmade gift (maximum of $10).
Originally, I thought of knitting something, however it would all depend on who I drew from the "Santa Hat" (aka a ziplock with our names, lol).  After I pulled my name, I knew the perfect gift.  It wouldn't be knit, but beaded.  I went to work straight away - bought the beads, printed off my pattern, and completed the focal the next two nights after work.  After finishing, I decided maybe I could alter the project by adding to it.  This didn't work out, so I decided to make a secondary piece the first would attach to.  I'm roughly halfway done with the second piece, though it's be hibernating for a while now.  I have to have it finished by our Christmas Party on the 16th, so plenty of time.  I could finish it in half an hour max if I'm in the mood, maybe I'll bring it to Bead Night on Wednesday if I go.  I won't be able to share pictures until then, but let me tell you, I think I may need to make one for myself!

In other beading news, I have the geometric bead work book, and I love making the 3D peyote stars.
My first star

I also played around with different sizes, and made my smallest yet - the size of a quarter.  The one below was made in size 11 delicas, however I could probably get one even smaller by using size 15s.  Sadly, I don't have many size 15s available in a wide range of colour - I may have to shop around online.
I've been asked to make another star for a Christmas gift.  The star will be in lovely colours and perhaps I'll try out a new design on it.  It shouldn't take more than an hour, depending on how I decide to design it, but I'll post pictures along with some others I've made once I decide to work on it!  I believe this one needs to be done before the 20th, so I'll likely have a bead night soon and work on a few other gifts as well - I have a few Swarovski gifts to make as well!

For now, however, it's time to curl up with some tea and knitting and watch Sleepy Hollow on Netflix!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Making an Attempt

I've been catching up on my once favourite blog, Wandering Cat Studio (it's not that it's not my favourite anymore, more that I haven't caught up on my blogs in a good year... odd; I know.) and decided to make an honest attempt to actually post more.

After a long weekend at work, I've curled up with my needles and cast on a sock Christmas.  I was asked for a pair of handmade socks... but unfortunately wasn't given much more to go on.  I knew I had to use a superwash wool, something that could be tossed in the wash and dryer - basically no fuss, hand knit socks.  I wasn't given a colour - just that they wanted them to be stripey- and in general this isn't an easy person to shop for.  After searching for some grey/white/black striping yarn at a reasonable (with shipping) without luck, and after Knit Picks discontinued Felici in Monochrome (I have a skein set aside for a specific project, and I'm not giving it up) I settled for Regia Racing Color sock yarn in 8883.  I'm not sure how pleased I am with the stripes, as it's thin stripes of black, with wide bands of black and white jaquards... Hopefully they'll like them.

Here's what they look like so far:
I'm using ChaioGoo Premium Stainless Steel needles, in US size 1 (2.25mm), and just doing a simple toe-up sock design - I fell in love with toe up socks after knitting my first pair, then again after knitting Dagger for the scary sock knit along (even if I only managed to finish one during the competition.  I still need to cast on the second sock, but I have more pressing projects).

Eventually I plan on getting a better camera, but until then I'll be using my crappy phone cam - My battery for my digital camera is dead and I can't find the charger.