Friday, December 31, 2010

in what's left of 2010

With about 12 hours left in 2010, I'm resolved to complete this second sock before we ring in the New Year. And with the heel turn completed and the gusset decreases underway, it should be do-able. No parties planned for us tonight - we spend New Year's Eve on the sofa watching celebrations around the world on TV. Chances are we'll be asleep well before the clock strikes midnight.

Tomorrow we host our annual New Year's Day open house. In past years I've gone a bit overboard, but this year it'll be more subdued. I'll wash and chop for fruit trays, but the prepared veggie and dip trays at the supermarket looked good to me. I've ordered dozens of samosas; they'll be ready for pick up later this aft. Add chips, cheese and crackers, coldcuts, olives, and bowls of nuts and we're ready for a party. Mmmmm, samosas! I hope there are some leftover for lunches next week!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

happy happy

For my birthday yesterday there were lots of fibre-related presents:

• a pile of sock yarn in stripes, solids and jacquards along with a pattern book full of ideas for same

• a book from Interweave Press with patterns for socks from hand-painted yarns, including a Nancy Bush pattern I'm looking at

• a three year digital subscription to Verena Knitting with a ton of gorgeous sweater patterns I'd like to knit

• a set of very fine bone china coffee mugs to fancy up my caffeine fix while knitting on chilly evenings

• a new iPod nano - it's tiny - with great sound and a nice little screen that's perfect for knitting podcasts as well as all my music and photos.

It's all great stuff; I'm happy to be remembered with so many thoughtful gifts. That's me set for another year of knitting!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

with about 12 hours left ...

... the plan is to wrap the first sock with a note indicating that the second sock should be ready by the end of the week. That should work, shouldn't it?

* sigh*

Monday, December 27, 2010

four day socks

When I started these socks on Christmas Day, I wondered whether it was possible to knit the pair from start to finish in time for a December 29th birthday.

I have my answer.
Possible? Yes.
Likely? No.

Instead, I'm spending the next couple of days at the lake doing a lot of nothing. Unless drinking pomtinis counts as "doing something". One sock will definitely be done in time. The other? Probably not!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Boxing Day

This morning people lined up for door crasher sales at electronics stores starting at 1am. I'd guess the temperature was about -8° with a windchill of about -20°; at least that's what the temperature was at 7 this morning. When the doors opened assembled crowds stampeded. I can't imagine wanting a big TV badly enough to endure that!

My Boxing Day plan involves watching The Tudors season four on DVD and knitting. A little more civilized, don't you think? I've finally finished the second Railwayish sock, leaving me one pair to knit for December 29th. I have my doubts about how possible that is, but I'm giving it a go.

Santa was very good to me - four skeins of yarn under the tree with my name on them! Two different colourways of Schoppel Wolle lace yarn, a skein of Punta Yarn Merisock and a skein of Alpaca Sox. Searching the Ravelry database for patterns for all this yarn is going to be great fun! The forecast for the New Year: lots of knitting.

Friday, December 24, 2010

merry merry

Hand knit socks are tucked in boxes wrapped with festive paper. Packages decorated with fancy ribbon and yarn ornaments fill baskets topped up with bottles of winter ale and chocolates. Yes, it looks like I'm ready...

Have a safe and happy holiday!

Happy Happy Merry Merry

Thursday, December 23, 2010

wrapping things up

With the heel of the second sock done and the pattern established for the leg the rest of the knitting on these Railwayish socks should be easy enough. I'll finish them tonight or tomorrow. Although this pair will be wrapped up before Christmas there is no possibility to deliver them in time, so they're late.

You know, I had the strongest urge to split an infinitive in that last sentence ... will be technically done ... but then a little voice in my head warned: your brother will read this, your brother will spot it immediately and he will comment on it. Just don't do it!

Ahem, back to knitting. This morning I looked at the calendar, took a deep breath and admitted to myself that, after these socks, no more hand knitted projects will be completed before Christmas. That's it, I'm done. It's kind of relief, isn't it?

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

crunch time

The Christmas lunch at work was Monday. I should know, I organized it. Too bad I was too busy at work to attend. I'm told it was good fun and at least the boss brought me back take-out.

This happens every year at my work. In the days leading up to the holidays our clients jam through a bunch of work for delivery before Christmas and a bunch more for delivery before year end. Somebody once explained that advertising budgets expire December 31st - it's use it or lose it. Not spending it this year can mean that next year's budget is reduced by that same amount.

As a result, I'm not getting very far with the second sock. With a couple days left before Christmas I'm only at the gusset increases. And four pairs of socks are yet to be started. My hope is to finish this pair before Christmas, and one more pair for the 29th of December. The remaining three pairs will just have to wait for next year! Today's goals are to catch up at work, eat three meals and get eight hours of sleep. It'd be nice to make it through this crunch healthy enough to enjoy the holidays.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

sofa: 1, me: 0

Clearly I lost that battle. Running around this morning getting ready for our Christmas lunch with Gavin's kids and grandson, I smashed my foot on the leg of the sofa. The result is predictable I suppose: definitely one toe broken. Maybe this is a sign that I should be taking things a bit easier?

Lunch was great - everyone happy with the food and their gifts. And I had a chance to finish my second blanket block. This time I used the Embossed Diamonds pattern from the HalfKnits site. It's quite a pretty block I think, again with a seed stitch border. Both promised blocks are complete and ready to mail.

Now, back to sock knitting!

Friday, December 17, 2010

a start on blanket squares

The first blanket square is on the needles, after a few false starts. It took me a couple of tries to figure out exactly how many stitches I needed to cast on for a ten inch block. The pattern is a Zig Zag Stitch from HalfKnits and the yarn is Plymouth Galway worsted. I bought this ball a couple of years ago with the intention of using it to border a blanket. And then knit the blanket without a border. It's lovely and soft, and really nice to knit. I've added a three stitch wide border in seed stitch to keep the edges of the block nice and square.

The blanket blocks are for the Warm Hands Network. Suzanne offered to assemble donated squares into blankets provided that the squares are mailed to her in December. I've promised two squares - so I'm working to complete those this week. Maybe in January I'll knit up the rest of my worsted weight wool stash into squares as a stash-busting measure.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

in high gear

The first Railwayish sock is finally done and it's actually quite a nice sock. I started this sock way back on November 19th, but it was interrupted for a few other projects and a vacation. Hopefully the second sock won't take more than a couple of days!

Things are really kicking into high gear on the Christmas front. I thought that my Christmas shopping was mostly done, until I found out that some of the presents needed to be exchanged.

The Nascar diecast model was a good idea for my nephew, but I picked the wrong driver. Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards, Jeff Gordon - all good. But Danica Patrick - bad. Who knew?

Buying the sequel of a favourite book for my other nephew was also a good idea. Too bad he's already read it. Read the whole series in fact. Hmmm, maybe a gift card instead.

Wish me luck; I'm off to attempt returns and exchanges.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Must Knit Faster

The thumbs should only take a few minutes this evening, which means one more present will be finished up today. Yippee! It's all starting to seem do-able. Maybe I can knit a few afghan squares tonight as well? Must Knit Faster.

Work on the Railwayish socks continues. I'm still a bit behind schedule on those, but it looks like work is starting to slow down, leaving me more time to knit.

This year Christmas falls on Saturday and Boxing Day on Sunday - how great is that!?! We're working a half day Friday and taking Monday and Tuesday off in lieu of the two stat holidays on the weekend.That's four and half days off! Enough time to knit a pair of socks for someone I won't see until the 29th?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


We've been under an extreme cold weather alert here in the Toronto area - temperatures in the minus teens, windchills in the minus 20s and 30s. Aside from warming up the car a bit longer, it doesn't impact me much, but, by calling the alert, city officials can implement extra programs to get the homeless into shelters. Brrrr. I can't imagine living on the streets in this kind of weather! Cold enough, just posing my sock in the snow on the porch!

Yesterday I found the time to laboriously tink back the heel of my first Railwayish sock. Turns out I screwed up the short rows - it wasn't dropped stitches at all! That made fixing it a lot easier; I just had to tink back to where I made the error and fix it up. Phew! It's a relief to have it fixed and back on track. Maybe I can finish the first sock today?

Monday, December 13, 2010

Christmas reds

The first red mitt still needs a thumb, but as usual, I'll finish the main part of both mitts before going back to do the thumbs. This pair of mitts is identical to a pair I made last year. Intentionally identical - these are to replace those mitts which were lost by my sister when visiting Ottawa last winter. Cailyn Meyer's pattern, "Cruiser" features a v-shaped cable up the back of the hand - a nice detail on an otherwise simple mitten pattern.

As a bonus, knitting red mittens is doing a good job of putting me in the Christmas spirit. Most of our Christmas shopping is done and wrapped. The tree is up but it's still bare; maybe I'll have a chance to decorate later today. The stockings are hung as well, so I'll have to keep an eye out for likely little items to stuff them with. Stocking stuffers - my favourite part of Christmas!

And in keeping with the Christmas theme - here's a picture of a Pointsettia from my recent trip to Cuba. Hard to believe that they grow to 12ft tall shrubs in tropical climes, when I have such trouble keeping a 4" potted plant alive for two weeks over the holidays!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

settling down

Things are starting to settle down. My workplace moved this week and it was a complete uproar, but by early next week things should be sorted out. At least the hard part of packing things up and moving them is over with. And I've caught up on things on the homefront as well - at least the house is tidy and all the laundry is done.

Gavin and I dashed out for a few hours earlier today to complete most of our Christmas shopping. Presents for kids and the grandson are wrapped with labels and bows in the front hall. Now we just need to pick up a few little things to even things out.

Things are starting to fall into place on the knitting front as well. The overseas socks are wrapped and ready to post. The orange mitts are done, ready to be wrapped. The red mitts have been cast on and should be finished this weekend. The knitted gifts for out-of-towners are almost complete - just the Railwayish socks to sort out. And then, just two pairs to make from start to finish. What's that? One pair a week? This might all work out after all!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

sign me up

Yesterday after screwing up the heel of my first Railway-ish sock I was feeling quite discouraged about my Christmas knitting. There are at least four pairs of socks still to be done, some afghan squares I must get done and a handful of other projects I'd like to get done. Hopeless, right?

And so the sock sits on my kitchen counter in a heap, waiting for the right time - with good light and lots of patience - to rip back to restart the heel. Occasionally I walk past and glare at it. There are a couple of other projects I can work on tonight - the orange mitts need thumbs, there's a pair of red mitts to knit and the second shelf liner is about 1/3rd of the way along. Any of those is good for knitting in the evening on the sofa in front of the TV.

Today's Tangled Up in Sticks and Strings blog mentions a Totally Useless Stitch-A-Long. Totally useless? That's something that has a strong appeal for me today! So I've signed up - after all, there's not too much involved, all I needed was a jar. I knew that old flea market canning jar would come in handy some day! And I already have my first two bits of yarn to start things off - a few inches of green trimmed after weaving in the ends on my Julia socks. See, now I feel like I've accomplished something!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

home from Cuba

In 1492, when Christopher Columbus discovered Cuba he declared it "the most beautiful country human eyes have ever seen". And I'd have to agree, it's pretty spectacular. A short walk along the shore there was a nice statue of Chris overlooking a small secluded beach.

The resort, Brisas Guardalavaca, is lovely. No wonder so many of the guests were returning for a second, third, or in some cases eighth, visit! Our room was oceanview on the second floor; nice, we could just walk up and down without bothering about elevators. Have a look; is that not the largest bed you've ever seen? The air conditioning worked, there was plenty of hot water for showering and fresh towels daily. Throughout the resort, lots of wide open vistas, wooden walkways and screens, and patterned tiles thanks to the Spanish influences on the architectural styles preferred in Cuba. Outside, magnificently gardened grounds showcasing every variety of palm and tropical flower imaginable. Watch for flower pictures over the next few days!

The food was very good for a Cuban resort - no complaints there. We swam, we snorkeled, we went on a Hobie Cat ride, we toured around, we read, we ate and we slept. And the beer was cold and running freely. It was a great vacation, but it's always nice to be home!