FO: Non-Felted Slippers and Practical Washcloths

Who knew slippers were so quick and fun to make? I made this pair as a Christmas gift, and now I want to make a pair for me. | FO: Non-Felted Slippers and Practical Washcloths - withwool.com

The Non-Felted Slippers pattern has been in my queue for years, and I finally got the chance to make them. Turns out that slippers are fun to knit. Quick to make too when you use super bulky yarn. I made one other pair but they were essentially socks with soles sewn to the bottom - so these are technically the first pair of slippers I’ve ever made. 

Who knew slippers were so quick and fun to make? I made this pair as a Christmas gift, and now I want to make a pair for me. | FO: Non-Felted Slippers and Practical Washcloths - withwool.com

One of the great things about knitting a pattern that’s been made 2,953+ times is that there are plenty of helpful tips and hints to find. I researched people’s mods to see what was possible and went from there. Definitely didn’t want a seam on the bottom of the foot so I used Judy’s Magic Cast On to start the sole - it’s not just for sock toes - and worked everything except the sole in the round. I made up plenty of time from not having to sew the slipper together even after ripping out the sole twice to get the right size. Full mods and numbers on the slipper’s Ravelry page. 

Who knew slippers were so quick and fun to make? I made this pair as a Christmas gift, and now I want to make a pair for me. | FO: Non-Felted Slippers and Practical Washcloths - withwool.com
Who knew slippers were so quick and fun to make? Sewing on the soles did take a good chunk of time though, but the work was definitely worth it. They gave the slippers structure and a bit of slip resistance. | FO: Non-Felted Slippers and Practical Washcloths - withwool.com
Who knew slippers were so quick and fun to make? Sewing on the soles did take a good chunk of time though, but the work was definitely worth it. They gave the slippers structure and a bit of slip resistance. | FO: Non-Felted Slippers and Practical Washcloths - withwool.com
Here's what the inside of the slipper looks like after the soles were sewn on. I didn't pull the seams too tight and they blended in well with the sole fabric. | FO: Non-Felted Slippers and Practical Washcloths - withwool.com

The one thing I did underestimate was how long it would take to sew on the soles. I probably could have knit a third slipper in the time it took me to sew on all 4 pieces. At least I didn’t sew the top and bottom together…more than once. Ahem. Anyway, the soles added something special and slip-resistant too. I used the medium size suede Fiber Trends soles which were a good fit for a US 8 slipper. I’ve got a large set stashed away for when I make slippers for myself. 

Who knew slippers were so quick and fun to make? I made this pair as a Christmas gift, and now I want to make a pair for me. | FO: Non-Felted Slippers and Practical Washcloths - withwool.com

Pattern: Non-Felted Slippers by Yuko Nakamura

Yarn: Knit Picks Wool of the Andes Superwash Bulky - 41 yds Fjord Heather and 67 yds Briar Heather

Needles: US 8 (5mm) circs

Dates: November 5 - 27, 2015

@Ravelry

Washcloths are a tried and true gift. Plus, they're a quick knit so you can make a bunch before you get bored. | FO: Non-Felted Slippers and Practical Washcloths - withwool.com

Washcloths are a tried and true gift. Always practical and fun, they’re quick enough that you can makea bunch before you get bored. I usually knit a few of them to giveaway every year. There was a set of 4 on the gift list last year. Each cloth used a different pattern to keep things interesting. I made 2 of my own designs, 1 that’s been in my queue for years, and 1 old favorite. Even though every one is different because of texture or slipped stitches, making them the same color really tied them all together. The washcloths were a big hit so I’m definitely going to knit more sets like this in the future.  

Washcloths are a tried and true gift. Plus, they're a quick knit so you can make a bunch before you get bored. | FO: Non-Felted Slippers and Practical Washcloths - withwool.com

Pattern: Bridges Towel and Laddered Cloth by me; Little Tent Dishcloth by Vaunda Rae Giberson, and All Washed Up by Jill Arnusch

Yarn: Pisgah Yarn Peaches & Creme Ombres - Ivy League (30 - 33 yds per cloth)

Needles: US 6 (4mm) needles

Dates: November 8 - 12, 2015

@Ravelry

Christmas Knits

Before it’s definitely old news, I did knit a few things for Christmas. I didn’t feel any obligation to knit for everyone on my list so there were no crazy deadlines to stress over. The projects were small, simple, and only took a few hours of dedicated work. I hope I remember this lesson for 2014’s holiday season. 

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The first projects off my needles were a set of kitchen towels for a friend who recently bought a house. I used one ball of Knit Picks Dishie, US 6 needles, and two of my own patterns: the Laddered Cloths and the Bridges Kitchen Towel

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The Cornered Slouch Hat, a pattern I released last December, was also a Christmas gift and I was incredibly tempted to keep it for myself. 

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Then, there were stockings. 

Big & Stripey here only counts as Christmas knitting because, A, it’s a stocking, and, B, I knit it during Christmas. My other travel project wasn’t working out and I wanted to just knit something. Decided I wanted to make a stocking with stripes and went from there. It was a simple thing to keep my hands busy during long car rides and low-key gatherings. I’ll block it eventually. Probably, right before it’s time to hang it up 11 months from now. 

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The tiny one continues my tradition of knitting a new ornament every year. I couldn’t resist putting a palm tree down the leg since the Bearded One and I have been surrounded by the things since we moved.

Now, no more talk from me about Christmas knitting until it’s time to start knitting for this year. The time will arrive sooner then it should. Always does. 

Heather Holiday Handspun

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We’re still talking about Christmas gifts, right? Because I’ve got my last skein of 2013 handspun to show off. This particular yarn, the only yarn I gave away last year,  was spun for a friend who knits beautiful lace shawls that seem to pop off the needles every time she turns around. Plus, the last time I gifted her some handspun she immediately knit it into a cowl. I think she must have cast on for it as soon the package landed on her doorstep. So, she deserves handspun yarn and I went on the hunt for soft fiber in the perfect color.

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Once the goodness, Ashland Bay Multi-Colored Merino, was in hand, I was ready to spin but not just any old yarn. I wanted to replicate one of the first skeins to come off my wheel, a soft DK weight 2-ply spun from the same fiber. That teal yarn demanded to be knit as soon as it came off the bobbins but I haven’t found the right pattern yet. To recreate said yarn, I split the fiber in half, set the wheel up with the same ratio and tension, and got to spinning. The final product wasn’t exactly the same but it was awfully close. Instead of a DK, it was a sport weight. Instead of 300 yards, there were 464. Sounds good to me. 

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The Specs

Fiber: 4oz of Ashland Bay Multi-Colored Merino

Color: Baltic

about 12 WPI post washing

464 yards

Spinning a heathered top was a new experience for me. Up to that point, I’d only worked with solid and hand dyed fibers; neither behave quite the same as a heather. The heathered top and the final yarn look very different since drafting the fiber further blends the colors. I wasn’t exactly sure what I’d end up with so I just went with it. The yarn is definitely still blue but you can see yellow, red and purple up close. I love the nuance and want to spin a whole sweater’s worth of this fiber. That’s definitely a first. 

Counting Down

Just 15 days until Christmas, my dear knitting friends. I hope you're way ahead on all you're projects or at least close to being done. There's just one more thing on my very short knit list, a small ornament, and it should be finished by the weekend. I hope. 

If you're looking for a quick, last-minute gift, I recommend simple hats, mitts, washcloths, and sport weight socks.  They're great tv knitting and you can wrap them up in no time at all. 

Black Friday and Beyond Sale

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Thanksgiving was wonderful this year and filled with lots of great food. The Bearded One and I made Thanksgiving Tacos and were quite satisfied. Now that it’s Black Friday and time for the biggest country wide sale of the year, I might as well join in too. From now, Friday 12 AM PST to 12 PM Friday, December 6, my downloadable patterns are on sale for 3.50. No coupons necessary. 

Just head to my Ravelry shop or this site’s “Pattern” page, pick out your favorite patterns, and add them to your cart. The adjusted price will show up automatically. 

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Tips for Christmas Knitting

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 I hate to break the news but it’s September and summer is unofficially over. Now for the worse news. There are only 112 days until Christmas, 108 days until Winter Solstice, and a scant 86 days till Hanukkah. Please don’t hurt me, I’m only the messenger. 

I come bearing a few tips to make knitting and crafting through the coming months a little easier. The holiday season is filled with enough stress and knitting should help reduce instead of add to it.

  • Plan your projects. Write a list of everyone you want to knit or craft for and what you’ll be making for them. Planning this stuff out now, will spare you the hassle of figuring it out later. The list doesn’t have to be finished in one sitting. You can add or subtract from it as you go. Just don’t add too much later.  
  • Make a schedule. Set some realistic goals and build your stockpile of awesome knitted gift goodness over the coming months. Start the big stuff now to get it out of the way and give yourself an extra boost when you finish. Leave the small potato chip knitting that you can’t put down for when you feel like doing anything but knitting.
  • Gather your supplies. Need yarn, needles, or random notions? Buy it or find it and put everything in one place. When you’re ready to start a new project or finish one, you’ll have everything you need. There are better things to do at midnight than rummaging around for a tapestry needle. Like sleeping or watching Doctor Who marathons. 
  • Start now. You don’t have to cast on right this minute but start thinking and planning your projects when you still have the breathing room.  

I’ve only just started my holiday knitting/crafting list and winding the first skein of yarn. It’s a pretty short list and will probably stay that way. Anyone have grand plans or ideas for the next few months?

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Double Meow

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Now that both of these frisky felines have gone to their new homes, I can finally introduce them to you. First up is the daring Ninja Cat with his glowing green eyes and stealthy paws. Second, is the striped and inquisitive Bumblebee. It was hard to let them go since they both looked so cute lounging on the furniture.

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I knit them both with the same yarns, the same needle, and from the same heavily-modified pattern. The only difference was that I made Bumblebee with stripes. Even though I’ve been knitting for years,  I still find it amazing how small changes can drastically affect the finished object. Ninja Cat grew to be short and round while Bumblebee turned out tall and narrow. Both are stuffed with a few pebbles at the bottom to help them sit up. See the pattern, yarns, needle, and modifications on the public Ravelry page.

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One of the neighborhood cats stopped by for a visit and just had to check out the newcomers. After the initial stare down, Ninja Cat and Bumblebee were deemed worthy of her attention. Then she had a fine time knocking them over. They mostly landed on their feet.

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2013

Hello, my fellow time travelers, and welcome to 2013! I’m quite happy to have seen 2012 out the door and I’m looking forward to kicking off the new year right. Last year, I had a few resolutions which, to be completely honest, I’ve completely forgotten about. Haven’t even bothered to look them up but they’re probably a mixed bag of success and failure. Instead of a long, blown out list of resolutions, I’m going with a theme this year all thanks to a lowly fortune cookie. Normally, I don’t put much stock into the prophetic power of fortune cookies. It’s much more fun to go around the table reading their innards aloud and tacking “between the sheets” on the end. More laughs that way. A few weeks ago at lunch, my fortune cookie’s advice was:

Approach all areas of life with a bold enthusiasm this year. 

After the reading and the necessary wink, I slipped the fortune into my pocket where it somehow survived the trip back home to my desk. I found it while cleaning out the drawers on December 30th and decided 2013 could use a bit of bold enthusiasm. 

I still have a few goals in mind - toning up, practicing yoga, designing more knitting patterns, saving up for a spinning wheel, etc - all of which could benefit from a bit of enthusiasm but I’m more interested in changing my mindset for the better rather than solely focusing on a disjointed set of resolutions. If I do it right, my goals will fall in nicely no matter the amount of work.  Time for me to hit the ground running. 

Anyone else running with a theme this year or a few resolutions? Good luck!

Whirled Purple

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Normally, when I write about my homespun, it’s sitting within petting distance on my desk. I pick up the yarn, poke it, bounce it up and down in my hands, and even nuzzle it on occasion. None of that’s happening this time because I shipped off this skein to be a Christmas present to the lovely Christen -  knitter, crocheter, and photographer extraordinaire. She has a weakness for lace, shawls, fine yarn, and the color purple. I am all to happy to oblige her in all of these things and spun the yarn, the first handspun I’ve ever gifted, with her in mind from beginning to end. It’ll be funny if she knits (or crochets) with my handspun before I do.

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I finished the yarn just in time to mail it off for Christmas but only because I used a hair dryer to speed up the drying. 89g of Knit Picks Wool of the Andes Roving (Amethyst Heather) turned into 292 yds of fingering - sport weight yarn. The singles were spun on a 22g spindle from Dawning Dreams and plied on 2.2 oz Schacht Hi-Lo spindle. A number of movies and podcasts made the process move pretty quickly but I’m ready to spin colors that aren’t purple now. Grey and yellow are on top of the list.

Cheers!

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I cut things a little close this year but the annual ornament tradition continues. 2009 saw a stocking, 2010 had mittens, and 2011 got a stocking hat. 2012 gets a cuddly and portly house complete with doors, windows, our initials, the year, and a smoking chimney. The ornament has a high profile spot on the tree and makes me smile every time I walk past. 

I hope you’re enjoying the holidays with lots of food, good company, and piles of finished gifts. Cheers!

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Done

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Something amazing has happened. All of my Christmas knitting, at least all the stuff I had to make for other people, is finished. In the 6 years since I learned to knit, this is the first time I haven’t had to give out IOU’s or show off stitches still on the needles. Bonus, today isn’t even the end of the world.

To celebrate I’m giving in to the urge to cast on something fun for myself and completely without a deadline. Over a year ago I bought a kit to make Mousie by Ysolda Teague and it’s been sitting in my stash until today. I’ve got grand weekend plans of doing as little as possible, knitting a cute mouse, and enjoying good company. 

If you’re still in the throes of holiday knitting, I wish you speedy needles, tangle-free yarn, and errata free patterns. Good luck. I’m cheering for you.  

Lists = Good

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My love for lists is no secret. To-do lists, grocery lists, and check lists have all served me well over the years. Now that there’s only a week until Christmas, the handy list is keeping me sane. This weekend, I was able to cross 3 things off the to-make list. Awesome. This great and powerful list also tells me there’s only 3 things left to make which is great since the list seems so much longer in my head. 

Another thing that’s keeping me sane on the knitting front is ignoring all those last minute requests. I’m just filing them away as future gift ideas and not worrying about them in the slightest.  Less stress and more sleep that way.

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Also keeping the stress down is knowing how much I’ve already accomplished. These 2 hats were added to the list late in the game but finished with time to spare. Never underestimate the strength of simple hats, nice yarn, and manly colors. Add in some entertaining movies to stave off boredom and you’re good to go. 

Pattern: Squared Away Ribbed Watch Cap by Oftroy

Yarn: Cascade 220 Superwash - Grey (900) and Navy (854)

Needles: US 6 (4 mm)

Dates: Dec 5 - 16, 2012

@Ravelry

This is the second and third time I’ve knit this pattern and seems to be my default guy hat. It’s simple but the squared decreases add a nice touch. It’s good travel knitting and good tv knitting which is great since 9” of ribbing gets tiresome pretty quickly. Totally worth it though.

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Origami Stars

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Now that my Christmas cards are in the mail and winging their ways across the States, it’s time to show off the goodness inside: origami ornaments. I like to make ornaments every year for the tree and add them as special touches with friends’ gifts. This year, I’m taking a break from knitted leaves, birds, stockings, mittens, and pom-poms for origami. There’s no lack of holiday knitting around here and origami is a nice change. The ornaments are much faster to fold than to knit, easy to make, and just the right size to mail to friends across the country.

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There are tons of instructions for origami stars across the internet and I fell for the Robin Star by Maria Sinayskaya. This video helped clear up some of the more complicated parts of the folding and assembly. I used 3” foil origami paper and the completed stars came out 4” across. The only thing I changed was to tuck the “triangle”, that is normally folded behind all layers, under the last layer to hide the paper’s wrong side.  Once all the stars were folded, a hole punch (an awl would work too) and some craft thread quickly turned the bunch into ornaments. 

After folding 20 of these stars I have a few tips :

  1. Don’t wait to the last minute. The stars are quick to make but won’t just appear in your hands. I made mine over the course of a week. 
  2. Assembly line the process. Once I’d picked the paper for a particular star, I worked the same fold on all the pieces before moving to the next step. Seemed to make the whole process go a lot faster.
  3. Practice first. Before I started using the small, foil squares, I practiced making the stars from larger paper. I was able to memorize the steps and make sure the process wasn’t too finicky before making the real thing.
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A Happy Diversion

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I have grudgingly come to terms with the fact that Christmas and all the deadlines associated with it are less than a month away. All of my knitting, spinning, and general crafty time has been dominated by holiday making. My needles are full. My spindle is heavy. My hands keep cranking out ornaments. As all consuming as it is, I’d rather be working on all this now when I’ve still got some time to spare than waiting till the last minute. Still, my brain rebels every once and awhile and I make something for myself just to take the edge off of the ever looming deadlines. 

Say hello, again, to the little robin cross stitch. He’s not an amorphous blob this time and actually looks like a bird. No name yet but he’s been great at keeping my hands busy during audiobook and podcast sessions. Best of all, no deadline. If I finish him in December, great. If he doesn’t end up on the wall until January, that’s great too. So, if you’re like me and already feeling a bit burned out by the holidays, do something fun for yourself before diving back into the mess. A happy diversion really helps.

Thanksgiving 2012

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A few day ago I bought a magazine and a kit to cross stitch a cute, little Robin in a round felt frame. With an audio book for company, I’ve worked on it intermediately starting with the pink, then the red, and, next, grey and white. I know it looks like an amorphous blob right now but every stitch makes the small bird perched on a branch more visible. With a little patience, dedication, many more stitches, and some blood - the needle has a taste for my blood, I’m sure of it - there will be an adorable Robin decorating my walls.

This Thanksgiving, which is traditionally a time of reflection, family, and stuffing oneself with food; I’m thankful for my family and friends along with the goodness that is yarn, the internet, burritos, and a cosy knitting nook. What’s near the top of the list though, is the chance to start fresh. I’ll be taking a lot of small steps which, like the Robin, will look like an wiggly blob at first but eventually turn into something great. I’ve got patience, dedication, and people to back me up. Hopefully, I’ll keep all of my blood.

Enjoy your Thanksgiving or Thursday, where ever you be. If you’re working “Black Friday” on Thanksgiving, from someone who’s gone hoarse working the registers at 1AM, I wish you patience, caffeine, and a powerful 1000 yard stare.

For Mom

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Pattern: Doublish by Alexandra Tinsley

Yarn: Noro Taiyo Sock

Needles: US 4 (3.5 mm) circulars

Dates: April 4 - 24, 2012

@Ravelry

Wandering around my LYS back in September, this yarn was the only thing that caught my eye. I imagined it as a cute little shawl that would match most of my shirts and and upgrade my usual minimalist style. This idea lingered through Holiday Knitting 2011 and through a prolonged bit of finish-itis. Several projects fewer on the needles, I cast on for this shawl. After I got through the first few rows, I was a woman obsessed. The colors were gorgeous and the pattern was easy enough to knit around town; however, the more rows I knit, the more I knew this shawl wasn’t for me. It was for my Mom. I think I knit a little bit faster after that because my Mom is awesome and totally knit worthy.

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I also made one other thing for her and it stole the show. I’m going to have a hard time topping this one.

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Did you hear something?

Maybe it was the wind in the trees or a squirrel walking across the roof. Or, the most likely possibility, ninjas.

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See? Ninjas. I knew it was ninjas. They’re everywhere. You just can’t see them most of the time. 

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Pattern: Wasabi the Gregarious Pug by Rebecca Danger

Yarn: A mix of Patons Kroy Sock 4-Ply and Knit Picks Stroll

Full details @Ravelry

Silliness aside, I made these as gifts and, as far as I’m concerned, they are the pièce de résistance of 2011’s Christmas knitting. The idea to turn a dog and a llama (technically, the pattern is for an alpaca but close enough) into ninjas was really fun right off the bat. I only laughed maniacally most of the time. It wasn’t all roses though. They took a lot longer to knit then I thought they would. Plus, besides from the knitting, stuffing, sewing, and faces both of them have round braid kumihimo belts and katanas made from pipe cleaners covered with i-cord. For future reference, making braids out of sock yarn will take way longer than you think. 

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Pattern: Zeke the Aloof Alpaca also by Rebecca Danger

Yarn: Also a mix of Patons Kroy Sock 4-Ply and Knit Picks Stroll

Full details also @Ravelry

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Making a llama into a ninja was pretty cool but figuring out how to make a removable emo coif (after this first style) was even better. A few steps:

  1. Once you have knit enough of said llama’s (or some other creature’s) head, insert a small, yet powerful magnet inside and hold it in place with another magnet on the outside. You might have to adjust them a bit before stuffing but they’ll stay in place once the llama has stuffing for brains.
  2. Embroider the face with the magnets still holding on to each other.
  3. Remove the outside magnet and knit a case for it. I cast on with Judy’s Magic Cast On, knit and increased in the round. When it was big enough I started decreasing and then pulled the yarn through the remaining stitches. If the magnets are strong enough they should hold through 2 layers of knitting. 
  4. Cut lots of 6” strands of yarn for the hair. You’re going to need them.
  5. Thread a needle with both ends of a stand and push it part way through a stitch on the case to make a loop. Pull the ends through the loop. Repeat until your llama has a nice, full coif. 
  6. Give it a trim and appreciate the awesomeness. 

While I was making these, I was a bit nervous about how they’d be received. Shouldn’t have worried though since they were a big hit. Does a knitter’s heart good. 

The Lacy One

Before 2012 gets any further along, here’s something else I knit as a Christmas present. It’s another Baktus but lacy. Not quite as addictive as the first but still great and a fun knit. We haven’t had much of a winter this year so I don’t know how useful it’s been. Seriously, plants are blooming and I keep hearing tree frogs at night. Someone needs to tell them it’s January.

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Pattern: Lacy Baktus by Terhi Montonen

Yarn: Claudia Hand Painted Yarns Fingering Silk 55 in Mardi Gras

Full details @Ravelry

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2012

It’s now 5 days into 2012 and I’ve managed to successfully write 2012 on everything requiring a date. Except for that last form but it did become a very exuberant ’12 afterward. I’m still easing into the whole idea of 2012 and trying to get myself running at full speed. Maybe it’s all this talk of resolutions or those to-do lists I write every day that are only half done but I feel like I should have already accomplished so much in the past 4.5 days. My goals should be reached. My to-do lists all done. Instead, I feel woefully unprepared. Feh.

Thankfully, my goal for this year doesn’t revolve around 24-hour productivity. It isn’t a manifesto and it isn’t even a list. It’s one sentence: 

Get out there. 

No more hiding. No more worrying. No more wussing out. Just get out there and do stuff. I think this is going to be a great year.

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Besides from that whole ‘I should have 20 million things done by now’ feeling, 2012 was been pretty awesome. I spent New Year’s Day with the Bearded One and a few friends and had a good time doing as little as possible. January 2nd, I decided to kick off my knitting year with a bang and cast on for a brand new scarf/shawl thing: Speedline by Alexandra Tinsley of dull-roar.com.

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That’s 2 rows of about 400 sts each in Tosh DK (Silver Fox and Candlewick for the curious among you). I love how dramatic the two color long tail cast on comes out. I’m also kicking myself for not thinking of it before. Anyway, 400 stitches. One row takes a long time and it hardly seems like I have anything to show for it; however, one row builds on another and I’m making steady, if slow, progress. In the end, I’ll have a great shawl (scarf?) that I’ll enjoy wearing all the more because of how effort I put in to it. This is a lesson I need to work into the rest of endeavors.

Any New Year’s goals on your side? I’d love to hear about them. Manifestos and lists welcome.

The Other Side

I’ve spent the last few days trying to finish up just a few more projects so I can start 2012 with a clean slate. This has only really worked with the last of the cookie dough.

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Normally, this would be the time to show off some artfully arranged photo with cookies stacked on top of each other or neatly arranged near a hot, tasty beverage; however, I just didn’t feel like it. Also, they were too tasty to sit around that long. We were woofing these things down as soon as they were cool enough to not burn away our palettes. 

The recipe: Gingersnaps from the Smitten Kitchen. I first saw this recipe in November and immediately put it on the list for Christmas making. The dough eventually becomes four dozen cookies so I just baked half to take to various holiday gatherings. The second batch I made yesterday didn’t last the afternoon. Somehow, I can see these cookies becoming a regular occurrence around here which is the greatest recommendation I can give. The Bearded One concurs.

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Christmas has been good to us this year. Lots of food, friends, family, and happy times. There was one last bit of knitting on Christmas Eve but making a tiny stocking hat before bed was just fun instead of frenetic. 

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Shadow got a ball of catnip and a new bed (which he has since ignored) for Christmas. Also, all the boxes he could stand to sleep in. Hilarity ensued. Didn’t take him long to get back to his normal self though.

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Thanks for reading and sticking around through 2011! I’ll see you in 2012.