Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Overly Ambitious

I'm back!  I apologise, dear blog, for staying away for so long.  Following the exam win (I passed; I gained letters after my name; I am extremely relieved) I suffered the biggest comedown in the history of stress.  I tried to knit but everything went wrong; my brain was just refusing to function!  Luckily I seem to be over the worst of it, and am now knitting away like mad again.

I've realised there are few weeks left until Christmas.  This is Bad News; there is no way on EARTH I will finish all these items in time.  Why did I write such a long list when I knew I wouldn't have time to do it all?  How on earth could I imagine I'd be able to achieve all of this?  Am I insane?  Does everyone do this?  I need to learn to knit more quickly.  Otherwise I am going to have to go to the shops and BUY PRESENTS FOR PEOPLE.  And oh, I can't even vocalise how much I Do Not Want to do this.  And my credit card doesn't want it too.  And all the yarn on my shelf is begging to be made into gifts!  And there are so many infinite possibilities for presents!  MUST KNIT MORE PRESENTS!

The Knitting Holiday, by the way, is fast approaching (we leave Friday morning).  I am beside myself with glee.  Five hours on the train, followed by an entire long weekend of cooking and eating, knitting, watching TV and sitting around in our pyjamas.  Then five more hours on the train back to London.  And apparently there are several craft shops nearby - and the woman who lives across the road spins her own wool!  IT'S GOING TO BE PARADISE.  I've tried to compose a list of projects to take with me and realised I have, as always, succumbed to the Overly Ambitious Knitter symdrome.  To that end, I have convinced myself that in 3 days I will finish a pair of socks, 3 mug warmers and 2 pairs of mittens (1 pair of which involves fairisle, which I think we all agree I suck at).  I KNOW the chance of this happening is smaller than the likelihood that I'll wake up green, but I still can't bear to pack any less - just in case.  Because what if I finish the socks before the end of the train journey, and the mug warmers by Sunday morning, and didn't bring the mittens with me?!  I could obviously finish the easy pair by Monday, and then I'd have no knitting for the 5 hour train journey back.  AND THAT WOULD BE THE ULTIMATE HORROR.

So even though I know that in reality I will make a mistake, spend an hour ripping it out, lose all faith and refuse to knit again until Sunday afternoon, and come home with one and a half socks, I am trying to work out how to fit 9 balls of wool and 4 sets of needles into my suitcase, and wondering if I need just one more project.  Just in case.  'Cuz, you know, I could still hit my Christmas target.  And then I won't have to battle the crowds.  And maybe I'll even have time to knit something for myself.  I've seen a really lovely lace shawl pattern that should only take a few weeks...

Saturday, 8 October 2011

The art of Not Knitting

Ugh, I haven't knitted anything in ages.  Ages, I tell you!  Super Scary exam is in 3 weeks and I am studying like a thing possessed.  This means I really haven't had an opportunity to knit, because I know that if I start, I WILL. NOT. STOP.  Possibly ever.  And that would mean failing the exam and, by extension, hating myself (not to mention having to go through yet another 6 weeks of studying hell), so I've had to swallow my urge to knit and instead spend hours with my head in technology books, slowly losing the will to exist.
Of course, tomorrow is the knitting show.  And I am going, because I need a day off from studying.  And this means I am going to spend 5 hours surrounded by crafting materials, armed with cash and a crazed feeling of freedom.  And a shopping list.  (I refuse to do what I did last year -namely, run riot with £50 and buy whatever the hell caught my eye, including cross stitch kits and some stickers)  How am I going to keep myself on the straight and narrow next week, with all that new yarn sitting patiently in my house, and all the new project ideas in a nice list on the coffee table?!  HOW?  It's going to kill me.  Kill me, I tell you.

In happier news, BFF and I have organised a long weekend holiday in Cornwall in November.  This basically is code for A Knitting Party.  We're going to have 5 hours of train journey in either direction, and then sit around for 4 days watching DVDs and eating.  The amount of crafting time is going to be ASTRONOMICAL.  It's a couple of weeks after I finish (and hopefully pass) the exam, which means I will be in full-on Christmas Knitting mode, so I will be using it as an opportunity to get through as many projects as is humanely possible; because I do not want to spend the last week before Christmas knitting until 3am, having come home from the pub totally drunk.  Bad Things always happen as a result of this sort of poor planning.  Let's face facts: Not Knitting is basically a staple of the week before Christmas, because you're too busy giving the finished presents away, buying food and planning how to spend the actual Christmas break.  There is no time to be finishing projects, unless you want to go mad.

Going on this trip also means I can work on knitting something for the boyfriend without him accidentally showing up at my house when I'm halfway through making it.  (The matter of the BFF's present is a separate issue which I am already going crazy trying to figure out.  Maybe I'll leave it at the boyfriend's house!)

So in conclusion, the Knitting Trip is a well-timed way of blitzing as much of the work as is humanely possible, whilst getting properly into the Christmas spirit with enough food to feed a small army.  And if I am awake all night on the Friday, well, I'll have 3 more days to recover - which is much better than having to get up at the crack of dawn to deliver the present you only just finished knitting and never want to see again as long as you live.

And now, I must off; back to the exciting videos, the copious amounts of notes and the horror of learning binary.  Yep.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

The wrong project

Over the last 2 weeks I have continued to cast on like some sort of demented lunatic.  I developed some weird system which involved different projects for different situations: projects for commuting, projects to do over breakfast and projects that need actual time and concentration and have to be put aside until some unknown point in the future when I have the opportunity to turn the heel/change the yarn/put the damn thing together.  The problem is that all the projects inevitably turned into Need Time projects eventually, causing me to start casting on even!more!projects just for something to do.

Naturally, the whole thing was destined to fall down at some point, because I am just too disorganised to properly concentrate on more than one thing at once.  Two things happened: 1, I reached my final week of study before a Scary Scary Technology Exam; and 2: I broke all my projects.  Yep.  They all went wrong - all at the same time!  I dropped stitches; I knitted toes where there should have been heels; I misread charts; I ran out of yarn.  In retrospect this was probably because all my brain power was on Scary Scary Exam, but it led to me going to work 4 days in a row WITHOUT ANY KNITTING.  The horror - the horror!  I felt naked when on the tube without any needles in my hands, like I'd done something disgraceful and appalling.  I was sure all the commuters around me were secretly judging my lack of productive hobby.  I felt shame.

On a happy note, I passed the exam.  My reward was an entire day of crafts in my house with my BFF.  I was SO looking forward to it - until we finished quilting and sat down to knit, and I realised I didn't have anything ongoing that didn't need fixing.  Where to start?  The thing that needed all the green ripping out?  The thing that made no sense and required me to look up techniques on the internet?  The thing made of a hairy yarn so dark green that although I knew it'd gone wrong, I couldn't even see what had happened?  Or the thing which required changing colour and then the most boring set of decreases known to man?  HOW TO DECIDE WHICH ONE TO WORK ON?!  The urge to cast on something new was, let me tell you, overwhelming!  Luckily, BFF pulled me out of my Yarn Frenzy and I managed to fix not one, not two, but ALL of those blasted projects - and finish* 2 of them.  Oh yes, I am an actual genius.  So now I am back on the straight and narrow, working on 3 (I think) projects and well on track to finish them and start new ones this week.

Did I mention Super Scary Exam is in 4 weeks?

* Where 'finish' = 'finish all the knitting'.  I refused to spend my first day of knitting freedom with seaming and stuffing.  REFUSED.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Yarn-related fails

I finished the first sock with about 40cm of yarn left in ball 1.  OMFG, the last 10 rows were terrifying.  I kept banging on about how badly things were going until my other half found himself on Yarn Watch, staring at the teeny tiny pile of yarn getting teenier and tinier with every stitch I made.  I finished it and am now on sock 2, and it suddenly occurred to me that if I happened to make the adult sock I used most of this ball for every so slightly bigger than the adult sock I used with the first ball, then I may run out of yarn earlier this time.  So now I'm on Yarn Watch, round 2, even though I'm on 25 rows in. This is not a fun way to knit, I can tell you.

I also started my heavily improvised Christmas Projects, which involve taking a worsted-weight, knitted-flat, felted project, and making it a DK-held-double, in-the-round, ribbed project with my own variation of the chart.  This is, naturally, a recipe for disaster and I've already started having nightmares about it even though I am literally on the second row.  I've also realised that I made a tactical error at the weekend when I 'accidentally' went to the LYS and bought some Big Softie to make a hat; I need more of the yarn for the Christmas projects, and it's the only shop I know of in London that stocks the stuff.  I am 6 rows away from needing it in a colour I don't have, the shop opens and closes whilst I'm on my way to or on the way home from work, and I therefore have to wait until the weekend to go back.  So now I'm annoyed at myself about this too.  Buying yarn, apparently, is an art.

On a happier note, the Knitting And Stitching Show tickets have now gone on sale.  I AM SO EXCITED, I MAY VOMIT.  I am going to go with a shopping list for Christmas stuff.  I am only going to buy the stuff I need.  I am not going to go mental at the Brown Sheep Company and accidentally buy a bag of baby cashmere because it was cheap.  I promise.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Sleigh bells ring, are you listening?

During a mad startitis binge last weekend, I spontaneously decided to make a list of all the Christmas projects I'd been vaguely planning in my head for this year, thinking I could put together a shopping list and have everything ready to start making stuff in November.  I was horrified to find that my list contained no less than 15 items, and there are only 15 weeks until Christmas day.  I'm a slow, English-style knitter, so most small-ish projects take me a week.  This news has therefore thrown me into some sort of knitting inferno where I'm trying to buy materials and knit five things at once - all whilst studying for an exam I'm taking in two weeks!  PANIC PANIC PANIC.

In my haste I have, naturally, made a mistake already.  The kiddy socks I oh-so-cleverly planned to make with some leftover yarn turned out to be rather larger than I had anticipated, and of COURSE I didn't have enough yarn.  Or anything else of the right weight.  So yesterday I found myself breaking my self-imposed yarn shopping ban to try and track down some solid coloured Regia Stretch - which of course has turned out to be like gold dust.  WTF?  The woman in Liberty's tells me they stopped selling it because nobody every bought it, which I find odd because I love the stuff!  WOE IS ME.  I ended up buying some cotton 4-ply instead which seems to do the job just fine, but still, I was already frogging the whole sock in my head, which is not a fun way to spend a lunch time yarn shopping spree, I can tell you.

It looks like I still don't have enough yarn anyway; the idea was to use the extra stuff for the heels and toe, but I am unconvinced that the leftovers will be enough to do the feet as well as the cuffs.  I really suck at this sort of thing.  Does anyone know a foolproof way of weighing yarn and deducing how much yardage you've got left, if you know all of its vital statistics?  This would really stop me from repeatedly getting into this situation ;-)

So anyway, the point is that I thought I was being all organised and avoiding having another one of those Decembers where I find myself stumbling home drunk at 1 in the morning, downing a pint of water and knitting until the sun comes up, then going to work, downing coffee, going back to the pub and repeating the cycle until I collapse; instead I find myself panic-buying yarn and trying to work out if it's humanly possible to knit whilst in the shower.  Oh well, perhaps I'll suddenly become a speed knitter as a result of all the haste, and everything will be finished by Bonfire Night!