Friday, January 30, 2015

Let's Talk About "Socks" Baby

Hello my friends! It's been awhile hasn't it? I returned from my eight day vacation early Sunday afternoon and between adjusting from the 60 degree temps I enjoyed to freaking snowstorms here at home, I am just now getting my act together.
Proof of the lovely welcome home I got!
Before I said adios to the Big Apple, I had snapped some pics of my sock knitting projects to share, but never got around to writing the lovely post to go along with them.

The Friday night before I jumped on the big ol' plane, I ran around like a chicken with its head cut off trying to get everything I wanted to bring with me into my bags. Let me tell you, it was a "sit on the suitcase while I zip it up" situation. Not pretty folks. So with each passing moment I wrestled with my luggage, the time I was going to devote to this post dwindled.

But alas, I am here with you now and let's talk about socks. I currently have quite the sock knitting situation going on in my knitting world.
Of course, there is also one sock in progress missing from this photograph as it is in time out, oh say for the last 4 years.

As you know, two of my knitting goals this year is to knit one pair of socks per month and to knit from my sock yarn stash. In an effort to meet these goals, I sought outside help from my dear best friend named Ravelry.

I hooked myself up with the Sock Sampler KALs group where they knit through different sock patterns together. For the months of January/February we could choose any pattern from Hunter Hammersen. Well I was on board for this one. I have had her Inlay sock pattern in my queue ever since I first saw it in Knitty back in 2011.

I went stash diving and came up with a SweetGeorgia Yarns Tough Love Sock yarn in Glacier.
Love the pattern, even with all the freaking twisted stitches, but the yarn choice for the pattern was maybe not the right call. It looks beautiful, but the yarn is what I call fuzzy and splitty which makes the twisted stitches more difficult. Because of the fuzz I have a hard time seeing where my needle is going and therefore end up splitting the splitty yarn very easily. Put all this together and I can only knit on these socks in VERY good lighting. That means once the sun goes down to sleep, so does this sock.

For Christmas my honey received some sock yarn from Santa in his stocking. I am still trying to figure out why Santa didn't knit the socks for him too. But anyhoo, I decided to take the yarn and knit a pair of vanilla top down socks.
In the photograph, one sock is already complete. Honey approves of both color and pattern.

In another effort to meet my knitting goals, I joined the TTL Mystery Sock 2015. I have joined in on this fun in the past and know that the pattern turns out to be just lovely, even the previous one that had bobbles on it.

As the first clue wasn't to be released until January 15, all I could do was pick out the yarn I was going to knit.
I received this beautiful little handpainted gem from Ellen over at The Ellen Report, which I won in one of her many generous giveaways last year. If you get a chance, pop on over and check her blog out. I absolutely adore reading her posts. I am usually left giggling. She keeps it real folks and I love it!

Lastly, another one of my knitting goals was to address my old UFO's. May I present my Smaug Socks:
I put these babies in time out on July 3, 2014 for two reasons. First, I came to the point in the pattern where I was ready to complete the toe. My gut was telling me something wasn't right. I had trouble interpreting a part of the pattern and therefore that gave me some doubt. Second, the sock was just a tad big on my foot. I wasn't sure if I wanted to frog it and go down a needle size or if I just wanted to frog the sock and never return to it because I wasn't entirely sure if I would have enough yarn to complete the second sock. (That was just a super long sentence.) So into time out it went!

Before I left on my vacation, I told myself to make a decision. This is what happened:
Yup, I frogged it, but what am I going to do? Well first this yarn is going to stay in some serious time out just like this. If you remember, I had used this yarn in another pattern that I ended up frogging back in June and now I just frogged this yarn again.

Needless to say the yarn has got some serious kinks and I have some doubts whether it can be revived. So right row it will stay hidden away as I am not ready to cast on with it any time soon.

The next question is, will I recast on for the Smaug Socks? Yes. I will however go down a needle size and maybe choose a yarn with more yardage on it.

While I was away on vacation, I took the Inlay and Honey socks with me. I made serious progress on one and finished the other. Stay tuned to find out which is which!

Share with me what's on your needles right now. Any sock patterns I should check out? Have you reviewed your UFO pile and decided to take control and deal with them?

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Throwing In The Towel(s)

About three weeks before Christmas a decision was made in my honey's family that we would do a Secret Santa gift exchange instead of buying everyone a gift. I thought it was a great idea as this is something we did in my own family years ago.

After I selected the name of whom I would gift some sort of fabulousness, I was stumped. This person themselves are very creative, but as being a creative person myself, I know how purchasing supplies for whatever their craft is can be very personal. Sooooo I scratched that idea.

Then one day about a week later a light bulb went off! This person always comments how much they love my knitting. So that's what I decided to do. However, with only two weeks until Christmas, what could I possibly knit quickly?!?!?!?!

Honey said socks. I said no.

I also said no to myself about knitting a Lap Blanket or Throw Pillow Covers. Not enough time.

After spending what felt like countless hours of Ravelry browsing and losing a million minutes of sleep, I decided I would knit an oversized dish towel and then purchase some lovely items from O&Co to go with it.

I had the perfect cotton yarn already in my stash so we were a GO!!!!!

Pattern: Stripes and Texture Dish Towel
Yarn: Knit Picks Dishie; Colorway - Coffee
Needles: Knit Picks Circs Size 5
Started: December 13, 2014
Finished: December 16, 2014
After knitting a few rows, I was really pleased with the texture of the knit. The original pattern called for Size 7 needles and one skein of yarn. I decided to use Size 5 needles and two skeins of yarn. I wanted a firmer fabric since it would be used as a dish towel.
It quickly grew and before I knew it the towel was done! So I cast on for another. Yup, one towel turned into two as I thought this would be perfect to gift to another!

Yarn: Knit Picks Dishie; Colorway -  Linen
Needles: Knit Picks Circs Size 5
Started: December 17, 2014
Finished: December 20, 2014
Sadly I am a bad blogger as I forgot to take FO pictures of these two towels before I wrapped these babies up for the intended recipients.

However, I did cast on for one more towel before the year ended!
And finished it in the new year!
Yarn: Knit Picks Dishie; Colorway -  Pomegranate
Needles: Knit Picks Circs Size 5
Started: December 21, 2014
Finished: January 2, 2015
When the towel is open it measures at 16.5" by 23" and used up practically every little bit of yarn. I love it when there are no real yarn leftovers.
This towel truly lives up to it's name of Stripes and Texture. I love it!

Besides changing the needle size, I did a couple other things that I thought made this pattern more to my liking. I completed a crochet cast on because I wanted it to match the traditional bind off. My formula for knitting the alternating pattern rows were 6 rows of seed stitch and 4 rows of garter stitch for nine repeats and then I knitted 5 rows of seed stitch before binding off.

The question is, will I knit more of these? Absolutely. They are like potato chip knitting for me and I think make really quick (i.e. last minute) gifts.

So there you have it. My last two FO's for 2014 and my first FO of 2015!

I'm done with towel knitting for now. I currently have a couple new projects on the needles which may or may not be socks. I am also tackling some of those old WIPs I mentioned in my Knitting Goals post. We'll see where I am at with that at month's end.

Right now I am gearing up for a little trip to see my family at the end of the week. I will be gone from the frigid temps, to something hopefully a little more balmy, for eight whole days. I cannot wait! Rest assured knitting will be packed.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

A Little Bit Of Everything

Weekend's sure do come and go, especially when they are jam packed filled with stuff to do.

Fortunately the weekend before last I was able to put away all the Christmas decorations. Can you believe all of these...
Fit into this?
With the tree gone our corner has resumed its normalcy.
It took me a whole week to get use to the tree and decorations being gone. Everything felt so empty!

Fast forward to last Friday and I woke up to this.
I knew we had a chance of some morning snow showers, but to me this wasn't just a shower. We didn't get too much, just enough to make it messy for a couple of days. After the rain we had yesterday, everything is back to normal. Of course, everything was back to normal in Manhattan by Friday afternoon!

On Saturday I spent a couple of hours creating little mini sock yarn skeins to give to my mother.
I have been blessed to have knitting friends who have given me their sock yarn leftovers for my blanket and I enjoy sharing the love. Without those donations, my blanket wouldn't be as far along as it is.

Speaking of the blanket. I pulled it out to see where it stands at the moment.
One of my knitting goals is to knit one row on it every month. The last time I worked on it, I had nine squares to knit to finish out the row. For January, my goal is to finish just that row.

Another item I am trying to check off my never ending "To Do" list is to transfer all my CD's onto my computer so I can get rid of the CD's. Don't worry, my music is being backed up to a couple of places as I am worried about losing it all!

So I have been working on it for the past couple of weekends. My view looks a little like this while I am doing it.
I was multi-tasking while doing this. I may have been knitting on a sock.

All the artwork you see in the picture, I purchased on our first trip to Europe and California. From left to right they came from Greece, Rome and San Fran. I have a few more pieces not shown that I am planning on adding to these and collaging them together above my desk. Every time I look at them, they take me right back to those trips.

Sunday was the day we took our tree to the park to be mulched. I love that the local parks do this. They even let you take a bag of the mulch home with you if you want.

We couldn't find the twine to tie the tree down to the jeep.

My honey's first plan was to just throw it up there and then we would each stick our arms out the window and hold it! Ummmm, yeah do you think I have rubber man arms? I don't think so buddy.

So what do we do? Enter the duct tape. The man's solution for everything.
Surprisingly it worked and thank goodness we didn't have far to drive.
With the tree dropped off we then headed out to check off a huge item off our "To Do" list that we've been trying to do for months. Empty my storage unit. We done small trips here and there so fortunately there wasn't too much left in it. We made three trips to and from and now our living room looks like this.
Once the closet built in is installed, I will be able to clean out the small bedroom and move some of these boxes into it. Eventually everything will be in it's place. It just feels really good not having that extra monthly expense anymore. So I can live with the clutter for now.

We rounded out our Sunday night with a little home cooked meal and watching "Taking Chance" with Kevin Bacon. What a fantastic movie. Really sad, but so glad we finally watched it.

How was your weekend? Did ya'll get more relaxing in than me?

Friday, January 9, 2015

#FBF - European Adventure 2014 - Rome Part 1

After returning from our backpacking adventure in September, life got really crazy for me. Because of this, I never shared the pictures from our trip. I thought that I would take the opportunity with "Flashback Fridays" to share them with you now. I'll be breaking up the posts with each city we visited. Today, I take you to Rome, Italy!

Our big adventure started off in Rome. In 2013 we were only able to squeeze in one whirlwind day, however this time we gave it two days for a very specific reason.* The Sistine Chapel.

Originally we had planned our days being consecutive ones, but unfortunately our first planned day in Rome the Vatican Museum wasn't open since it was a Sunday, and it was closed the one day we were there the year before too. I was determined to finally see the Sistine Chapel since I didn't think we would ever make it back to Rome again. So as we finalized our plans for the trip, and realized we would be flying to Greece instead of taking the ferry, we decided to split our two day Rome visit up and come back to it the day before we flew to Greece.

I am so glad we had seen the major sights of Rome the previous year. We landed in Rome at 6:25am this time and let me tell you, we were completely jet lagged. A total mess. We weren't able to sleep on the flight and couldn't check into our hotel until 2:00pm. By the time we went to bed on that first night, we had been awake for over 24 hours.

However, the sunrise we saw from the plane as we landed was worth the early a.m. arrival.
Before we even left the airport, someone had to have a coffee, or should I say, espresso.
Oh my gosh, this trip made me wish I drank coffee. I spent the first few days of our trip a walking zombie.

After the coffee was downed, which took all of two seconds due to the tiny nature of these espresso's, we figured our way to the train to take us into the heart of Rome. Once there, we high tailed it to our hotel to drop off our stuff and freshen up in the restaurant bathroom.

Funny story, while I was in this bathroom I couldn't figure out why it looked so small and different from the previous year. Turns out I went into the men's room. Oopsie! Thank goodness it was a private one. After my sleep deprived mistake, we were off.

To fight off our utmost desire for a bed, we took to walking the streets of Rome in hopes of not falling asleep.
After walking for what felt like miles in the hot Rome sun, we sat down for a minute to rest and tourist watch, but before I knew it this is what I saw...
We eventually pried ourselves off the benches and headed back to the hotel. Once there, we cleaned ourselves up, watched some Italian television and then headed out for dinner.

We had our hearts set on the restaurant we enjoyed so much during our previous trip, sadly they were closed for Holiday. We eventually settled eating at the restaurant across the street as we were tired and starving.
After dinner we rolled ourselves back to the hotel where my eyelids couldn't wait to close. We had an early wake-up call the next morning as we were heading to our next destination, Naples!

*Our second day in Rome will be shared in a future post.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

2014 FO: Hermione's Everyday Socks

While looking through my Ravelry project list, I am still amazed that I only managed to knit up two pairs of socks in 2014.

The most socks I ever knitted in one year was 12 pairs back in 2008. Wowza! I was a knitting machine back then.

But I digress. Today is all about showing off one of my last FO's of 2014, the Hermione's Everyday Socks.

Pattern: Hermione's Everyday Socks by Erica Lueder (Free pattern)
Yarn: Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks that Rock - Rare Gems Colorway
Started: December 4, 2014
Finished: December 28, 2014
Needles: Knit Picks Circs - Size 1.5 (Leg), 1 (Foot)

The socks grew up from this...
To being this...
Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks that Rock really is one of my most favorite sock yarns to knit. With each skein you are guaranteed gorgeous coloring and exquisite stitch definition.  
I purchased this skein when I visited Rhinebeck 6 years ago. It reminded me of the gorgeous fall leaf colors. I really treasured knitting with it.

The pattern itself was a delight to knit. Very simple, but yet when combined with the right colorway yarn, is full of dimension and texture.

The only thing I wish I had done differently was knit the leg on size 1 needles and the foot on size 0 needles. The smallest size to cast on is 64 stitches and with using my standard needle formula for socks, they turned out a tad big on me. I may also consider taking the stitch count down if I choose to knit them again. In the end it's ok. They will be house socks and I will love them each time I place them upon my feet.

I do have one more FO to share before we get too much further into 2015. Hopefully I will get it on the blog soon!

Monday, January 5, 2015

Knitting Goals 2015

Every new year I like to set goals for myself. Not resolutions, but goals. I find that by putting my goals in writing, I tend to achieve them, or come as close as possible to achieving them.

For 2015, I categorized my goals. You know into knitting, sewing, scrapbooking, reading and lifestyle groups. As in the past, I have selected a few goals for each group, written them down and placed the list in a place where I can glimpse at it every so often to remind myself of what I want out of this year.

As you may note from above, three of my groups are crafts.

Since moving into the new apartment last spring, I've been excited about the prospect of getting all my crap precious crafting treasures organized and at my fingertips in hopes of fulfilling all my creative dreams!

I am currently waiting on tooth and nail for my built-in shelving closet to be completed and installed where I'm sure I will spend countless hours organizing said precious crafting treasures. Custom builder guy said everything would be done in two weeks four weeks ago. But alas, I will continue to dream and organize in my head until it is here.

Right now things kind of look like this...
...which is only half of what I own. The rest is piled up in our second bedroom. The finished cabinet will contain all my yarn, fabrics and scrapbooking supplies. I. Can. Not. WAIT!

I thought today I would share with you my knitting goals for the year. They really are quite simple:
Goal #1: Really straight forward. I have two plastic bins filled with yarn that I have collected through the years. One bin is all sock and lace yarns. The other bin contains odds and ends worsted weight yarn and at least enough yarn to make 3 sweaters. I really only want to purchase yarn that I really can't live without this year and if I do any gift knitting, I may need to make a purchase.

Goals #2: 2015 is the year I actually do something with all those old UFO's I have hanging around. Either the project will be finished or frogged. I've highlighted in yellow the UFO's I am dealing with here:
I technically have 9 old UFO's, but I do not count the Sock Yarn Blanket as that is a seriously long term project that I have come to terms with as finishing when I am old and gray sitting in my rocker on my front porch.

I'll let you know what I do with each as I tackle them.

Goal #3: Knit one pair of socks a month? Absolutely. I hardly knit any socks last year and I want to fix that this year. Plus this is another great way for me to knit through that bin of sock yarn and get the scraps set aside for my blanket.

Goal #4: Yup, I am giving myself the simple goal of knitting one row on my Sock Yarn Blanket a month. This project doesn't get as much love in the knitting time department as it should. It's simple mindless knitting and I think I could use that once a month. I can easily finish one row in a weekend.

That's it. Four simple knitting goals this year. I think I can handle it.

So tell me, have you set any goals for yourself? Share with me. Would love to hear!

Friday, January 2, 2015

Ringing in 2015

Happy New Year everyone! I truly hope that you all had a fun and wonderful time ringing in 2015.

My honey and I kept it low key with just the two of us. I had to work during the day, but had early dismissal which is always nice. When the whistle blew at 3:30pm, I made like Fred Flinstone and rushed my booty right out of the office.
My goal was to get to the subway and home as quickly as possible. I have never had the desire to hang out in Times Square to see the ball drop, so I really didn't want to hang around the city any longer than I had too.

Last year, we started our own tradition for ringing in the new year and frankly it's really my favorite.
Pizza, wine and "It's A Wonderful Life" movie. Perfection!

Once we finished with movie #1, we moved on to movie #2, "A Christmas Story"! While most people watch all their holiday movies leading up to the big day, we tend to save a couple of ours for New Years Eve.

As the clock struck midnight, and the city was looking at this:
I was looking at this:
Yup, that's right. I was looking at the inside of my eyelids. I couldn't stay awake. Serious party animals here folks. I am sure we were clubbing in my dreams.

I am truly looking forward to whatever 2015 has in store for me. I've made my goals, which I'll share in another post, and am ready to make some dreams come true!

Here's to a happy, healthy and crafty New Year!!!!