Okay, maybe not a caveman per se. When I look at certain knitting techniques, I think to myself, “Self, if small children in Victorian times – who didn’t have the internet, Ravelry, and all – can do this, why, so can I!” This has usually worked to my advantage; for instance, I jumped right into cabling without realizing it could be considered challenging. Every once in awhile, however (usually when my hubris is getting the better of my common sense), I get a cosmic smackdown.

This time, it was short-row heels.

Let me explain. I have done many socks – toe up, top down, with several different types of heels and toes. However, up until this point I hadn’t done top-down socks with short-row heels (mostly because I prefer the sturdiness of slipstitch heels). For this sock, I’m working with Creatively Dyed Calypso Sock yarn, and decided to do a coordinating solid-colored heel and toe. I really love the way short-row heels look in this application. So, with my “how hard could it be?” mentality, I went on my merry way.

Four hours, six froggings, and several very creative curse words later, I found out just how hard it could be. I mean, I’ve made lace! I’ve knitted a full on SWEATER, for crying out loud. And I’ve certainly turned a sock heel or two in my time. This is pretty much one of the first sock heel techniques people learn – in my mind, I should have been flying though it. Alas, this was not the case.

Eventually (read: it took me an entire day and a total of ten, yes, 1-0 froggings) I got it done. The results are completely worth it, but I’m definitely taking it as a sign to be a little less cocky about my abilities.

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The first finished object of 2010 is now bound off! I just finished a Clothilde Shawl. It’s both my first shawl and my first lace project – and I would have to say, it’s wonderfully well-written pattern! It’s fairly simple without being boring, and the pattern is both written and charted (so you can pick the method that works best for you). It was a nice quick knit, as well! I haven’t yet blocked but I’ll be posting before and after shots – I think it will be a great transformation.

I’ve made up my mind this year. I normally make tons of resolutions, break them, feel guilty, and give up. This year I’ve vowed to make fewer resolutions, and try to accomplish them one day at a time. Here’s what I’ve come up with so far!

1. Post to this blog at least once per week. I’ve been shamefully lax at posting in the last few months, and I need to get on it.
2. Use up stash at a 2:1 ratio (i.e. use two skeins for every one skein purchased).
3. Learn entrelac – I already have the yarn and pattern!
4. In relation to #2, finish some UFOs that I’ve attempted to ignore…turns out they don’t just finish themselves!
5. Knit two garments, one of which will be a fair isle/colorwork item.

That’s it so far! So, now that I’ve spilled the beans, what are your resolutions this year?

Well, the holiday knitting is going good. So far, I’ve completed a hat for sister #2 – it’s a great color for her, and there’s enough left over for some matching mittens. I’ve started my brother and sister #3’s scarves, which have been predictably boring. Big long rectangles don’t really interest me, but that’s what they want. They’re each about a quarter of the way done.

In other news, I just started a new job (hooray!), but it’s rather cutting down on my knitting time. I hope I can work quickly and get everything done in time for Christmas. Also, I’ve been really preoccupied with baking recently! Something about fall makes me want to start cooking and baking more…I spent last weekend making apple pies and tarts, and this weekend I’ve got some pumpkins for pies. I have a no-bake pumpkin cream pie that is delicious and super easy…here’s the recipe.

16 oz pumpkin puree
1 package vanilla flavored instant pudding mix
1 cup milk
2 cups Cool Whip
1 graham cracker crust
pumpkin pie spice to taste

Whisk pudding mix and milk together. Add pumpkin puree and spices to taste. Fold in Cool Whip. Pour mixture into the graham cracker crust and chill for at least 30 minutes. If desired, top with more Cool Whip and serve! It can be made up to a day ahead and chilled overnight.

Hmmmm…Wordpress seems to have eaten my last entry (about Rhinebeck) – I’ll have to repost later 🙂 Suffice for now to say that Rhinebeck involved a lot of planning but was SO worth it in the end!

And now, Christmas knitting.
At first, I was pretty much going to knit…nothing. Maybe a small something for the little ones in the family, but nothing major. I dislike major deadlines, and my family has not yet proved whether they can take care of knitting appropriately. Plus, I have so much I want to do for me, I would rather knit for my pleasure than knit up a Christmas gift that someone may or may not like.

However, life, as it is wont to do, has gotten in the way. So, with that in mind, I went through my stash and picked out several skeins of yarn that I have no use for, or that won’t fit the project I wanted to use it for. These became the “present skeins” – I love my family, but I draw the line at using my best-of-the-best yarn for things that I’m not sure they’ll care for (yes, it sounds terrible written out, but until and unless they prove knitworthiness, I’m resolutely saving my alpacas and cashmeres for myself).

Luckily, some of the skeins spoke to me and told me what they wanted to be. A burgundy-pink wool that I had dyed (and ended up not loving) is becoming a beret/fingerless knits for one of my sisters. I have a purple-green-blue variegated yarn that was intended to be a sweater, but it’s a little TOO variegated for my taste; it will become a scarf-and-mitten set for my other sister.

I’m giving myself PLENTY of time – I estimated the amount of time each project would take…and then doubled it. Hopefully that will be enough time! I’ll keep you updated on my progress as things come out.

It seems that every time I’ve gotten ahead this week, something else come up. I am yet again behind the eight-ball when it comes to deadlines!

Still working on socks, a shawl for my MIL, the Christmas sweater, and add in some top-secret (okay, might be submitted to a magazine) designs…life is a little hectic. I need to hunker down and just plow through my obligations – and remember there are only 3 weeks until the honeymoon!

Eighteen weeks and four days. One hundred thirty days. That’s the time left between now and Christmas Day 2009.

Now, normally I don’t make Christmas gifts – usually there is either a dearth of time, or a lack of projects that I’d even consider making. There are several people on my “List of People I Will Not Make Anything For;” these are the people who don’t understand/appreciate/value anything handmade- whether it be food, knitted or sewn things, whatever. For them, why bother wasting my time and skills? It hurts to not be able to gift certain things to people- it hurts worse to have something I’ve agonized over be totally rejected.

So. This year we have three toddlers and a baby in the family. They are cute and appreciate EVERYTHING that you do for them. Plus, they take a short time to make things for, and only use a little bit of material. I feel okay about making stuff for them…and if it turns out that they don’t appreciate it? Lesson learned and no more making stuff. I’m only purchasing yarn for one project at a time, and have to finish it before I start the next child’s gift. (This doesn’t include projects for ME of course!!)

First up? A modified zip-up hooded sweater (pieces taken from 2 or 3 patterns) for my little cousin. Will post progress pictures as they come!

Summer finally has arrived!

(and by that, I mean that it has refrained from raining and has been >70F for a WHOLE WEEK!)
I am so glad to finally be biking, swimming, and just enjoying the sunshine! I even have some color on my normally-translucent skin. I even convinced Husband that and afternoon mini-golfing would be a great way to play hooky…

The awesome weather has, however, made me stop knitting as much- due to both the temperature and the fact that I can actually be outside, active, and not wet and cold :). Really, I’ve only been knitting- and briefly at that- on socks. Two at a time socks, which I am finally getting the hang of. I used Melissa Morgan-Oakes book, and it was really great…lots of step-by-step instructions with pictures!

Ingredients

    1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
    3/4 cup granulated sugar*
    3/4 cup brown sugar*
    1 1/2tsp vanilla extract
    2 eggs
    1/2 tsp salt
    1 tsp baking soda
    2 1/4 cups flour
    6 oz good chocolate**

Preheat oven to 350F (175 C)
Break chocolate into pieces. Roughly chop in food processor (or by hand, for the truly brave).
Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, and vanilla extract. Mix well after each addition. Sift salt, baking soda, and flour together. Add flour mixture slowly to mixer, making sure to fully incorporate the flour before adding more. Stir in chocolate.

Taking approximately one tablespoon of dough, make a ball and put onto cookie sheet, leaving about 1 inch of room between balls.

Bake approximately 10 minutes and allow to cool slightly before removing them from cookie sheet. Enjoy!

* – Different sugars affect the texture of the cookie. Granulated sugar will create a crisper cookie; brown sugar will create a softer cookie. Feel free to play with the ratio of sugars until you find what works!

** – I really like the texture and gooey-ness that the chopped chocolate adds. However, definitely substitute chocolate chips, candy bar pieces, or toffee for your favorite cookie.

Or, mistakes come in threes. I tried to make a simple pair of stockinette socks – CO with two different size needles, miscounted the stitches, and then broke a needle by closing my laptop on it! I’ve started a pair of Cookie A’s Hedera socks three times now due to CO mistakes. Which, of course, I never discover until AFTER I’ve done about six rounds.

Murphy’s Law also apparently applies to: baking (note the THREE batches of cookies I’ve managed to foul up, despite being a good baker), housework (who knew?), and going to the grocery store (let’s not even go there).

However…I have managed to make a good batch of chocolate chunk cookies, and as soon as I get the recipe typed up I will post it for all to enjoy.