Friday, December 21, 2012

My Life in Stitches: My Year in Stitches, 2012

Dinner in the Eiffel Tower

As the year comes to an end (and not the world), I thought I would do a little review of my knitting life. My totals for this year are:
 Six cowls
Six shawls
Four scarves
Three pairs of fingerless gloves.
Two sweaters (maybe three if I can finish my Solaris by the 31st)
Two baby blankets
One hat
One pair of socks
One shrug

26 projects this year. Wow. That’s about two per month.

Favorite project for the year: (tie)
My Verdant shrug. It turned out much better than I expected. The picture of me wearing it also featured on the patterns page on Raverly.

My $5 in Paris sweater. This thing is lovely. It fits so well because I sized it as I went.
$5 in Paris

Least favorite project for the year: (tie)

Mini Mania Scarf. As much as I loved the idea of this scarf, working on it drove me crazy. I had more colors to add, but I lost the will to live. And I thought I was going to make two of these...NOT!

Dinner in the Eiffel Tower.  For some reason, my stitch count was off every other row, which got annoying really fast.

Pleasant surprise project of the year:
Dinner in the Eiffel Tower
Dinner at the Eiffel Tower. This project annoyed me…until I bound it off, blocked and wrapped around my shoulders. Wow. Sometimes a project is worth the trouble.

Major disappointment of the year:
Arcadian Shawl
Arcadian Shawl. This project had several strikes against it. First, the yarn I used was coarser than I expected. Second, it was too easy to miss my mistakes. I wouldn’t see them until I got two or three repeats away. I did a lot of ripping with this one.  Third, I was hoping one of my friends who said they liked it would as for it, but alas, they didn’t.

Next week, I'll share some of my knitting goals for 2013.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Getting Critiqued For All the Internet to See and Other Contest Risks

Entering contests are always a risk. You have a 50/50 chance of the judges loving your entry. Or hating it. I've entered my share of contests and quickly learned three things: a thick skin is essential, the ability to see truth in a judges negative remarks is paramount and that anything connected to art is subjective. I entered my book cover in a contest recently at The Book Designer and here were Joel Friedlander's remarks:

"Compare to the title immediately above. Both books have a 2-word title, and the first word is “Love.” Everything Love Bites has, this cover lacks. There’s no clear focus, message or unifying element, and the eye just wanders around. Even the type is confused. An educational comparison."

Interesting remarks, huh? Definitely something to think about. And don't worry, my thick skin is firmly in place. 

What do you think? Do you get the wandering eye looking at my cover? Would you pick this book up if you saw it in the store? For those who've read it, does the cover match the novel?

Friday, December 14, 2012

My Life in Stitches: Merry Christmas, Knitter

Christmas is only 10 days away. I know we've all been making our list and checking it twice. So what do you do when you get to your knitter friends, especially if you're a non-knitter?  Well, help is here. Here is my handy-dandy gift guide for all the knitters in your life.

I must add a word of caution here: It may be challenging to get this information and maintain the surprise, but if you can find out specifics, do so. Knitters have their favorites and they have things they hate. Make sure you're gift isn't going to end up at the next swap party. Ask a knitter's family. Trust me they'll know.

1. Gift cards. You can't go wrong with gift cards. I know some people consider gift cards "cheating," but it may be best. And there are so many cool things you can gift. On Raverly, which is like Facebook for knitters, knitters can create a wish list of patterns they'd like to receive. Gift a pattern. Or gift an online class through Craftsy. Find out what your knitters favorite local yarn shop (LYS) is and get them a gift certificate.

2. Massages and manicures. Serious knitters would really appreciate that because knitting does take a toll on the body. A massage/manicure could be a great thing to loosen up aching muscles and allow your knitter to do what they love again.

3. A knitting getaway. This one may take a little more planning, but send your knitter off to somewhere relaxing and where they're lots of yarn shops. If you really want to impress, create a trip road map that includes stops at yarn shops on the way

4. Knitting themed items like clothing, mugs and other practical gifts. There are mugs, t-shirts and even car decals. CafePress has some neat things. Even consider storage items. Most knitters have a drawer full of items they've made for themselves and storage becomes an issue. Consider getting an inexpensive chest or dresser. It works for storing yarn, too. 

5. Wear what they've knitted you! Remember, knitting for someone is an act of love. We thought about you enough to devote days and sometimes months to a project. Show your appreciate for it and wear it the next time your see your knitter. They'll love you for it.

What are you favorite knitting gifts ideas?

Monday, December 10, 2012

Holiday Traditions: Christmas Past

Family Christmas traditions are as different as one person is to the next. I love hearing about all the different Christmas traditions because they make each family unique and gives interesting insight how strong family bonds are formed. Since I like it so much, I decided to share some of traditions from Christmases past, present and future, starting with Christmas past.

"Wrapping" the Door

Every year my mother bought an extra roll of wrapping paper so we could "wrap" the front door. The paper was never as wide as the front door, but we had an outer door that covered the unwrapped edges. We decorated the door with ribbon and lights. The challenge was how to run an extension cord through the crack under the door.

A Real Christmas Tree

The funny thing about having a real Christmas tree every year is my sisters and I have a broad range of allergies. Seems like that real tree should have sent someone to the hospital. Even more memorable was our homemade Christmas tree stand, which was a tall white bucket of dirt in which we would bury the stump.

 No Sleep

This wasn't really a tradition that anyone planned. The excitement of Christmas and presents kept us up all night. We eventually went to sleep very late, collapsing from exhaustion.

Christmas Music

My dad is a huge music buff so it stands to reason the music played a big part in Christmas. One song in particular, Sleigh Bells, HAD to be played every Christmas. Why was this song so special? Because my sisters and I would gallop around the dining room table and neigh like horses. I still laugh at the thought of how strange we must have  looked. 

What are some of your favorite childhood Christmas traditions?

Friday, December 7, 2012

My Life in Stitches: Hey There, Cutie!

So I am now down to two projects. Yay, me! I finished the caplet I was working on, and yes, I am going to have to give it away or rip it out and make something else. I'm coming into the home stretch with my Solaris sweater and I'm frogging the baby blanket I was working on to start over with acrylic yarn (better for babies than wool). I've also been a good girl and started a swatch of the next sweater that I'm making.

All is well in knitting life except...

Okay, you know how you finish a project and you start thinking about what your going to knit next?And then after that, you decide to go browsing on Raverly. You know, you're just looking. Then, you spot something that catches your eye and your like, "Hey there, cutie!"And then you realize that you already have the yarn in your stash for the cutie you found and the next thing you know, you're reaching for your needles to cast on. Yes, I know it's all very If-You-Give-A-Mouse-A-Cookie-ish but I found myself browsing Raverly and falling in love. Here are some cuties that have found their way into my heart and my Favorites.

Three Almonds Scarf I have a Miss Babs Yowsa Whatta Skein that wants to be this.

Brick Remember the baby blanket I'm frogging? Well, tht freed up some lovely Shephard's Wool, enough to make Brick.

Juliana  I love the way this wraps. That's heaven for a chilly girl like me.

And last but not least: 

Downton Abbey Mystery KAL Okay, so I don't know what it is yet, but I love Downton Abbey. Lorne's Laces is offering an exclusive colorway called Christmas at Downton. If Santa doesn't bring it (l'm looking at you Brian Haynes), then I'll get it after Christmas. 

What new cutie projects have caught your eye lately?

Monday, December 3, 2012

Butchering Christmas Carol Lyrics

For the past couple of days, I've had a hard time believing that the Christmas holiday has started. I guess temps in the 60's aren't helping. Besides, I've seen the signs that Christmas is coming. Holiday party invitations, 24/7 Christmas music on my local Christian radio station and the sparkling apple cider on sale at the commissary, but these weren't enough to get me in the mood. I don't feel like Christmas is coming just like it didn't feel like Thanksgiving to me.
Regardless what I feel, the holiday season is upon us so I decided to start acting like it. My first task? Loading up all my Christmas music into iTunes. I had one CD already there because I needed some mood music for a Christmas themed graphic design project I did a couple of months ago. Music is a big part of my life and I must say, Christmas music ranks pretty high on my list of favorites. I am, however, not one of those people who listen to Christmas music all year. 

In loading up my music, however, I noticed something. I've gotten lazy with knowing the lyrics of Christmas songs. For instance, I just discovered that there are four verses to Joy to the World. All this time I thought it was only three. Once I read the missing verse, I kinda understood why most people omit it. It's not as happy and cheerful as the other verses. And I completely butchered the lyrics to Silent Night. I don't remember when I forgot Christmas lyrics. 

That's the next task on my Christmas prep list: refresh my Christmas lyrics.