Monday, September 27, 2010

Pefectly Reasonable

Is there anyone that doesn't love to come home to packages?  The one waiting for me today was extra special.
Four beautiful skeins of sock yarn.  Um, oops?

I often feel guilty about my stash.  I frequently need to remind myself that I spend well within my means, all my bills are paid, the dogs are fed, and the yarn makes me happy.  Perfectly reasonable, right?  But when I finished admiring my new skeins and went to put them away, I discovered the sock yarn drawer is full.  I could cram in a skein or two but not all four.  Something about that fact is disturbing to me.  I have several other drawers filled with yarn where the yarn could go so it's not a storage issue.  It just makes me start to wonder if I've crossed some line and have started to go a little too crazy with the sock yarn.

I would feel better if I were finishing projects and using up more yarn, but I haven't been the most productive knitter lately.  That brings me to yet another interesting development.  I finished a Marigold sock last month.  It's a really cute pattern. This weekend I grabbed the rest of the yarn and started knitting.  I was really enjoying the pattern and by Sunday evening I was already about halfway finished with the sock.  Wow, almost a finished pair, right?  Um, not so much.

Uh, what's the problem with this picture?  I knit a completely different pattern when I started the second sock.  It wasn't a mistake; I did it on purpose.  As much as I like the Marigold pattern, I wasn't in love with the first sock and didn't want to knit it again.  I'm so much happier with how the yarn looks in the second pattern (Charade), and when it's finished, the original sock will be ripped and reknit to make a matching pair.  I think this was a perfectly reasonable decision.  I really really love the yarn, and I want to be happy with the finished project.  That's much more important to me than checking another project off the list just so I can move onto another one. So reasonable, right? Yes.  Absolutely.  Nevertheless, this fickleness is certainly not helping me knit down the sock yarn stash, is it now?  Would it be wrong to cast on 5 shawls tonight just so I can feel like the yarn is being used?  Then I could lament about my overflowing WIP drawer....

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

My new obsession

The whole thing began so innocently with an impulse buy at the farmer's market in July.  I picked up some pickling cucumbers and got it into my head that I would try to make half-sour pickles.  Within a few hours I had dug out some old mason jars, found a recipe, and before I knew it, this was sitting in my dining room:

And a few days later...pickles!  I was so very proud and excited and eager to try more stuff.  When my parents were vising over Labor Day weekend, I took them out to a farm to pick fresh peaches and tomatoes.  My Mom absolutely loved it, and soon we had picked 40 lbs of peaches and about 20 lbs of tomatoes.  The tomatoes were easy, and after a few batches of gazpacho and salsa, they're about used up.  The peaches were a little more challenging.  I've baked since I was a young kid, so before when I've gotten a little out-of-control when peach picking, I've used them to make peach ice cream, pie, cake, etc.  But the pickling put all sorts of ideas in my head, and suddenly I was obsessed with making jam.  Since I had no proper supplies, attempt #1 was plain peach freezer jam.  It was so amazingly delicious, and I was determined to try more.  Not ever being satisfied with only going halfway, I was wanted to do the real deal:  I wanted to try canning.

I spent a couple of weeks gathering up supplies and reading whatever I could find on the Internet about how to can, and off I went.  I started out with a peach rum butter recipe.  The butter turned out pretty well, but the canning was a total fail.  I knew my glass-top stove might be a problem and sure enough, it wouldn't sustain a high-enough temperature to keep the water boiling in the canner.  Sigh.  The yummy peach rum butter was relegated to the freezer, and I went back to the drawing board.  The possible solutions for the stove required more equipment (a canner with a flat bottom and smaller circumference), which I really wasn't ready to invest in.  But I kept reading and stumbled across another option--using a camp stove.  I have a camp stove and the poor thing hadn't seen any use in a couple of years.  Perfect!  So last weekend, I cooked up some peach amaretto jam and attempted outdoor canning.

And you know what?  It totally worked.  The water boiled.  All the jars sealed like they are supposed to.  And now I have a new obsession.  Instead of perusing the Internet for new knitting patterns, I'm suddenly looking for canning recipes, and I'm ridiculously excited about apple season now.  I have a new craving for homemade applesauce and I think the whole family might be getting apple butter over the holidays.

Ironically, this morning I stumbled across this blog post that mentions how canning has recently become sort of a new fad.  I had no idea my new hobby was the latest cool domestic thing to do, and I admit knowing that takes a hint of the wind out of my sails, but I don't think even that will  slow me down much. Knitting used to be so exciting because I felt that I learned something new with every project.  Knitting hasn't been like that for a long time, and I'm feeling some burn out lately.  A new interest was definitely needed.  So expect pictures with canned applesauce at some point this fall!  But no worries that I will turn this from a knitting to a canning blog--I have way too much yarn to stop knitting (and a good bit more currently on the way).  But for now, I'm off to make more pickles since I'm about out of peaches.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Enjoying the Process

At the beginning of 2010, I joined the Intswemodo2010 on Ravelry.  Intswemodo=International Sweater-a-Month Dodecathon. Twelve sweaters in twelve months. Before I joined, I counted up my sweaters from 2009.  There were eight, and so it didn't seem beyond the realm of possibility that I could kick it up a notch and crank out four more in 2010. Well over eight months in and I have finished six sweaters.  It's not looking good for me right now (I firmly believe my new fascination with sweaters made with sock yarn is to blame).  Realistically there's no way twelve is going to happen, but I still have that goal nagging at me.  I'm all of five inches into the body of Vivian, and when I've looked at it the past few days, all I could think is that it's not going fast enough for me to get to the other sweaters waiting in the wings.  Stressing over the sweater made me not want to knit it, and I kept reaching for other projects.

I do this a lot with knitting.  I set all kinds of crazy goals, and before I know it, I start stressing over finishing things and forget that knitting is not work.  At 4 am this morning when I couldn't sleep (shocking, I know), I turned to Vivian determined to simply enjoy knitting.  For a good row and a half, this worked out perfectly as I knit along quite contently.  Then I spotted a problem:  one of my cables was crossed the wrong direction.  Now in a sweater with hundreds of cabled stitches, it's amazing that I felt this was something to worry about, but there was no way I was going to be able to let this one go.
At 4 am I was in no shape to deal with this problem, and I started working on a sleeve instead.  When I was better rested, however, I turned back to the cable problem.  The wrong cross-over was 6 rows down.  Maybe I could just drop all the stitches down, cross the cable to the right, and pick up all the stitches again, and everything would be perfect, right?

I'm kind of impressed with myself that I did just that.

Dropped down 4 stitches all six rows.  It looked a little scary at this point.

But thanks to a trusty crochet hook, there was a happy ending. All the stitches picked up rather nicely, and a few rows later, you could barely tell where I did all that "surgery".  All the cables were happily leaning to the right as they should.

Phew.  I've already got one project in progress with some huge mistakes; I was not mentally prepared to have two.  I guess that trying to be less of a perfectionist has some limits.  Nevertheless, somehow today reminded me to enjoy the process of knitting and to not think of only the end result when knitting a sweater.

Friday, September 10, 2010

On its way

I'm not a warm weather girl, and this record-breaking hot summer has been rough. But when I left the house this morning, there was a chill in the air.  For the first time in months, I'm wearing closed-toe shoes and needed a light jacket. Sweater weather is on its way! And I couldn't be happier about it.

Last week I cast on Vivian.  I'm using Rowan Cocoon in a very pale sage green called "Fog".   I think relaxing on the couch with my new project is the perfect way to celebrate the change in weather.