Thursday, 27 December 2012

Stealth Knitting / Let it Snow

I would just like to note for the record that stealth knitting for a Christmas gift is very difficult when you are in the same house as the recipient, and you have all sorts of holiday baking and such to do as well. Thank goodness we aren't having Christmas gifting until tomorrow night. I finished my gift last night, in bed, at 2 am, with a little headlamp for illumination.

And you know what's more fun than stealth knitting? Stealth blocking. In a house where the primary heat is the kitchen woodstove. I take great pride in the fact that the gift in question is done, blocked, dried, and packed now.

It's been a gorgeous day here. The soundtrack was definitely either "Let it Snow"  or "A Marshmallow World". That lovely winter storm predicted came through here overnight and all day, and dropped enough snow to have us wading thigh-high in the drifts. The birdbath looks like a plum pudding, minus the holly or berries on top. So far, though, no success in getting a cardinal to land on it for the necessary note of color.

Oh, and that trail in the snow? That was Rex, the bigger dog. He was chest-deep in it, looking like he was swimming. The car was a foot deep this morning - Dad was cleaning it off when I took the picture after breakfast, but enough has fallen since that it looks like he didn't do anything! Everything was quiet, muffled by the snow, except the twittering of the birds at the feeder - eating with impunity, since the snow is well over the cats' heads.

We went for a walk/wade in the bush with the dogs this afternoon, and it was lovely, like a scene out of "The Nutcracker". Tufts of snow on every twig, and lining every branch and fir bough, turning them into something sculptural.

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Christmas Prep and Allie's Adventures

Happily settled in at the parents' for the holidays, and since it appears the world didn't end yesterday as predicted, the Christmas prep is in full swing. There's a line of cookie tins in the pantry, along with a couple bushels of pine and cedar boughs, and filling for tourtiere cooling on the counter. We went out Thursday and hunted a tree, and the ice and snow are dripping off it in the living room, where it'll get put up and decorated tonight.

For a couple days there, I was a little worried about whether it would be a white Christmas - even yesterday's storm was half rain here - but it's been snowing most satisfactorily all day today. The big wreath Mom put on the barn/garage door is dusted, and the cardinals are coming to the bird feeders, adding a note of festive color.

And who's this helping Mom with filling the bird feeders?

The spotted dog on the left is Allie, and she's been here for a week. Someone apparently dumped her on our road about two or three weeks ago. She was living in an abandoned barn down the road, hunting mice for her living and coons for fun, when my father saw her. One of the neighbors told Dad about her (including the fact she had apparently killed four coons), but he hadn't been able to take her himself, since he already had four dogs. So Dad said hello to Allie when he passed during his run, and when he invited her, she followed him home. We won't say she's settled in perfectly yet, but she's getting there. Our big dog, Rex, is mostly ignoring her, with the occasional argument. She was a little prone to chasing cats and chickens, but that's improving. She mostly ignores the chickens now, and may be down to chasing the cats only if they run. (Thankfully. She's not fond of going up stairs, but she will if there's a cat, with the result that twice in one day we had to carry her down the shed loft stairs, because she was afraid to go down, then rescue the cat she chased up there. So far, knock wood, no injuries to anyone involved.) She's learned how to sit already, and Dad's teaching her to catch bread cubes. She looks to be at least part Australian cattle dog, and they're apparently good at playing ball and frisbee, so maybe next summer...

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Speed Demon

That has to have been the fastest pair of mittens I've ever knitted.

I cast on Wednesday night, cast off Friday at knit night, blocked and dried them overnight, and delivered them to Marianna this morning at 10:30 - slightly damp around the cuffs still, but done and tagged and ready for her to give as a Christmas gift. AND I remembered to take pictures before leaving this morning.

I do not want to knit at that speed on a regular basis.

Except for a few rows on a sock foot redo, there has been no knitting today, for a change. I finished picking up a few things for Christmas, then got the cookies for the exchange baked. Holiday Oatmeal cookies, with coconut and raisins and nuts and maraschino cherries.

I needed 48 cookies for the exchange. The recipe produced 50. Sooo...48 neatly bagged, and two in me. After all, I had to make sure they were good, didn't I?

Friday, 14 December 2012

2012 Stashdown: Year in Review.

Back in January, I signed up for a local 12in2012 stashdown. Now we're getting down to the end of the year (Already? What's up with that?), and the call is out for us to tally our results. So I went and hunted out my original list to compare with what actually happened.

1: Myrosia's scarf. Currently at 3 feet long, it will probably be my first complete project of the KAL.
Another week, and she will be able to wear it this winter. Completed.
2: My gold Pamina socks. About 3/4 done. Completed.
3: My Autumn Rose sweater, which I had hoped to finish last spring. It's been on hold, but maybe it will be done for THIS spring. Fail. Didn't even touch it.

Stash Projects:
4 and 5: A lace shawl and a lace scarf from Joanne's cria. She didn't think she could do justice to her share of the spun yarn, so she requested that I make something. Completed, and greatly appreciated.
6: The lace shawl from my handspun for the Guild challenge. I got the stitch patterns figured out, I just need to do some math. May knit a sample scarf first (I've some laceweight alpaca in stash), so I could get two projects out of this. Completed, as a triangular shawlette.
7: A textured stripe cardigan/jacket in Briggs and Little I got from a destash. Pattern is called Marsh, it's in a magazine I have but not on Rav yet. Maybe I can enter it when I get to needing it. Fail. Forgot all about it, in fact. I think I found another possible pattern for the yarn, too.
8: Socks in the grey alpaca I bought at Rhinebeck year before last. Pattern "Alpha" in last winter's Interweave Knits. Fail. Got part of one sock done, then it got pushed aside.
9: More handspun - the Borealis sweater in my peacock 3-ply. Someone I know made the sweater, and it looked so good I went to find the pattern. It's a bulky weight cowl-necked fitted tunic sort of sweater, and ought to go comparatively fast. Completed and loved. Required more math than I expected, since my yarn was about half the weight of the original. 

So 6 out of 9 of my originally planned projects got done - but when I started going over my projects on Rav, I found another 10 this year that count as stash-down, which means I did theoretically destash a fair amount of yarn - and most of the FOs went to other people. Why the stash doesn't look noticeably smaller is a mystery. I swear I didn't buy too much this year. Maybe it really does breed when you're not looking.

The word is that we may do a 13in2013 next year. I am so in.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

On To The Fun Part

It's been a bit crowded this past week. 5 final exams in 4 days, and finished off all but one of my commissions for people at school.

Erin's mittens

Marilyn's baby set

Marianna's fingerless mitts

But as of about 10:30 this morning, it's Christmas vacation for yours truly. Well, in a manner of speaking, anyway! I don't leave town until Tuesday, but in that space, somehow, I get to cram in the following:

- Finish the last pair of mitts commissioned by a classmate, and pass them on to her. I cast on last night, and the first mitt is over half done. They're for a Christmas gift, so definitely they get priority.

- Clean the apartment. Properly. It's been kind of neglected lately - and I've got a friend coming to stay Monday. So I will have to find places to put things besides on piles everywhere, and then see about removing the cobwebs and cat hair and whatnot...

- Dye 2 skeins with indigo, and start my Christmas knitting. It's not much (redo the feet on a pair of socks, and knit a stole) and neither piece is really 'due' until after Christmas.

- Bake cookies for a cookie exchange on Sunday. No rolled cookies this time - I'm thinking our family Holiday Oatmeal cookies, with coconut and maraschino cherries and raisins and nuts. Nice simple drop cookies, and the dough is practically addictive.

-  Finish a bit of Christmas shopping, and pick up the ingredients for the cookies. I think I can do that all in one session, and maybe work in handing off the mitts at the same time. Nothing like getting all the errands done in one shot.

- Maybe, just maybe, if I have time, put up my little Christmas tree. Didn't get to it last year. It's not as important usually since I'm out of town for the holidays, but if my friend is here, it'll be nice for her to have a bit of decoration. I'm thinking if I can find a place for my schoolbooks, the tree should fit on the dining table...

You know what? It sounds like a lot, but it's all fun stuff, really. Even the cleaning. I don't usually like it, but I feel a tidying mood coming on to fill the space where school assignments used to be. Now to roll up my sleeves and get cracking!