Friday, October 28, 2011


Once upon a time, I started knitting a shawl.  It was so long ago that I can't remember exactly when, but there's no doubt it was well over a year ago.  The shawl pattern was Ishbel.  It's hard to go anywhere around the virtual knitting world without running into this shawl.  If you've knit at least a couple of shawls, good chance that one of them was Ishbel.  I'm a couple years late to the Ishbel party, but it's finally finished.

Like most new projects, I started out like gangbusters and quickly finished the stockinette middle section. I have no idea what happened next, but it did not involve knitting on this shawl for a long long time.  Ishbel was buried in a drawer.  I occasionally even forgot about it.  When I finally made it back to Ishbel to start the lace section, I could only manage two rows before stuffing it right back in the drawer where it was neglected again for weeks, sometimes months, at a time.  Obviously at that pace, progress was slow.  I usually like knitting lace, but my mind has been so foggy this year that even simple lace patterns have seemed extremely tedious.  Thus, Ishbel sat.  And sat. 

When my determination to clear out WIPs kicked in earlier this month, I finally gritted my teeth and dealt with Ishbel forcing myself to knit at least a few rows every night.  I really enjoy knitting the first half to two-thirds of shawls, but once the rows become so long that it takes fifteen minutes to get through each one, I start to drag.  One night I managed six rows with the help of two hours of Battle: Los Angeles (gotta love a good brainless action movie, especially when there are aliens).  A few episodes of Vampire Diaries and the Walking Dead (yup, vampires and zombies also totally fun to watch) got me through the last chart and epically-long bind off. 

So Ishbel is finished.  Finally.  Ishbel puts me at eight projects finished with stash yarn this year (the goal of twelve might still be within reach!) and a little more progress on the sock yarn stashdown.

October update: 
Current score: -3
Skeins acquired: 0
Skeins used/destashed: 2 (1 for Ishbel; 1 skein sold)

New sock yarn stashdown score: -5.  Best score yet!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Cleaning House

Somewhat unsurprisingly, a couple of weeks of relatively focused knitting did indeed result in a finished shawl.  Go figure, right?  I mean who could have predicted that outcome?  I’m sure that logically I have always understood this concept, but it took some new-found determination for me to start putting it into practice.

Around mid-November last year I embarked on my great WIP knit-down of 2010.  I started with 14 knitting projects.  After six weeks, seven were finished, three were ripped, and I was left with a significantly smaller WIP pile and some serious knitting burnout.  Nevertheless, slaving away on the Scarecrow socks was the first step toward my even more ambitious goal for this year—clear out ALL the WIPs.  I shudder a little bit even just writing that.   It’s a lofty goal to be sure, but hey, aim high?  And I started a month earlier than last year. That's totally going to make the difference, right?

I have seven active WIPs (conveniently all pictured to the right) that I hope to finish up by the end of the year:  two sweaters, two pairs of socks, fingerless mitts, a vest, and a skirt.  I’m trying to forget that three of these projects were on the original 2010 list—the Vivian sweater, Cauchy socks, and the cabled mitts.  I’m apparently still not quite ready to go back to these three yet since  next on my chopping block is the Angostura vest from Ysolda Teague’s Little Red in the City.  I was dying to start this vest all summer and finally cast on in early September.  I flew through the back until I hit the armhole shaping.  I tried to follow the pattern, but it didn’t look right and after ripping and reknitting a couple of times without success, I put the back aside and started the front.  I didn’t make it too far before it was cast aside.

Angostura in its current state of neglect

Even though I moved onto the front, the issue with the back still frustrated me, and there were a few other issues that probably contributed to my abandonment.  The yarn is Malabrigo Rios, which is heavenly, but since I didn’t buy the skeins together, I’m alternating skeins every two rows.  I’m not a fan of juggling two skeins (that whole tangling problem I have), and one of the skeins has some light spots which is driving me crazy.  It’s funny how small details like these will make me chuck a project right to the bottom of the closet.  I’m still not looking forward to going back to the vest, but maybe a few nights of steady knitting and tangible progress will bring back that initial enthusiasm.  Hopefully I'll have something to show soon!

Oh, and to clarify “all the WIPs” does not include my epic afghan projects (I’m not that crazy) or the few projects currently classified as “hibernating” on Ravelry,  like the sweater that I’ve only knit a few inches of one sleeve or the socks that I still need to spin yarn to finish.   There’s aiming high and then there’s just plain delusional.  

Friday, October 7, 2011


I recently came to understand something ridiculously obvious: if you knit on the same project every night, you will make progress.  Not exactly a news flash, but I'm still amazed it actually worked and that I finished a sock.  A pair of socks over two weeks used to be fairly normal for me, but since the last pair stretched out over five months, I haven't exactly had any speedy expectations on finishing the next pair.  Yet after a few nights of steady knitting, I have new finished socks.

Before I get too excited about finishing the second sock in a couple of weeks, I should remember that I started these in January.  For the last couple years, ran a Wizard of Oz themed sock club.  I only signed up to receive a couple of the kits, and the Scarecrow kit was not one of them.  When I saw the pictures though, I really loved it.  I managed to buy the yarn and pattern.  At some point halfway down the foot of the first sock, I had the "what was I thinking?" moment.

The colors?  Way too bright and crazy.  Not me at all.

Realizing the socks were not quite to my taste meant I buried them away until a few weeks ago when I made up my mind to clear out my WIPs.  I forced myself to knit at least five or ten rows each night.  Some nights I knit more.  Before I knew it, I turned the heel.  A couple more nights of knitting and a day of long conference calls got me to the toe.  And I admit, I do love the stripey toes.

I still can't say I love the socks, but finishing them means one more WIP crossed off the list, one more 2011 stash project finished (up to 7 now), and another skein of sock yarn I can count as used.  Success!!

Sock yarn stashdown progress:
Most recent score: -4.
New skeins acquired: 2 (Aug and Sep club skeins).
Skeins used: 1

New total: -3

I have a shawl that has been sitting about as long as these socks. Probably longer. I honestly can't even remember when I cast it on.  I think I'll put my new found discovery to work and try to focus on just a few rows every night and see what happens.