Knitstant Gratification

The crafting adventures of a knitter, music lover, and hockey fan.

Archive for December, 2010

Resolution Fail

Posted by Andi on December 31, 2010

My knitting resolution for 2010 was to complete 26 projects, an average of one every two weeks. I have completed only 24 projects, and therefore did not succeed. I’m very close to having 25 as Tim’s Christmas sweater is close to being done, but it just won’t be finished before midnight.

Whenever I do not succeed at something I set out to do I examine why it did not work out. I think one think that hurt was when I read that I was not allowed to take knitting needles in my carry on baggage on flights to and from South Korea. That was over 30 hours of potential knitting time each way that I missed out on. I probably would have finished the Twisted socks I started once I landed in Bangkok, but as of now I’m only to the heel flap of the first sock. That would have put me at 25 projects – it’s not 26 but it would have brought me one project closer. At that point I could have whipped up a quick dishcloth or something this evening and made my goal.

Still, 24 finished objects is nothing to sneeze at, and it’s the largest number of projects I have ever completed in a year. So that’s something. As when I fail, I like to examine why something worked out well. This year, the reason why I was able to finish so many projects was that I knit a lot of quick projects as a way to avoid working on the Blanket From Hell, which still isn’t finished. If I had put in the time to finish the blanket I probably would not have completed 24 projects. That isn’t something to be proud of given that the Blanket From Hell is a long overdue gift for a friend.

There is no more point in looking backwards. Only forwards. So, here are my knitting goals for 2011.

1. Finish the Blanket From Hell. I’m so close!

2. I’m participating in the January Hat Trick in the Puck This! group on Ravelry. The goal is to knit at least three hats in the month of January. I have four patterns chosen and the corresponding yarn chosen, so if I finish the third one early I can do four. But I need to be reasonable. The goal is three hats.

3. I’m also participating in the Sock Stash Knitdown in the Stash and Burn group on Ravelry. Most of the people participating are planning to knit down 12 skeins of sock yarn from their stash. Because of my time constraints and other projects I want to complete, my goal is to knit down 10 skeins. I’m counting the Twisted socks I have already started because I haven’t worked on them in weeks, and they are only about 20% done. I probably won’t work on them again until February, so yes, they count. Even though we are knitting down our sock yarn stash does not mean we have to knit socks. One of those three hats I mentioned above? Yeah, going to be knit out of sock yarn. I may as well kill two birds with one stone!

4. I have yarn for three garments that has been sitting in my stash, and I want to knit all three garments this year. I bought some recycled yarn at Yarn Con in 2009, some Malabrigo Lace to make a cardigan back in the summer, and a sweater’s worth of Dream In Color Classy at their warehouse sale a few months ago. I have projects in mind, and I have no excuse. I need to get started on those.

That would make for 16 or 17 finished objects in 2011, depending on if I do three or four hats in January. Oh, wait, there is a cowl I really want to make, and it’s not made out of sock yarn. And I want it now. NOW! So that would be 17 or 18 projects. Oh, and finish Tim’s Christmas sweater. That would be 18 or 19 projects. Well, after doing 24 this year, 18 or 19 shouldn’t be a problem, should it?


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Saddle up!

Posted by Andi on December 28, 2010

One of the things I love about knitting is that there are constantly new challenges to tackle if you choose to do so. I was excited when Tim chose the Iain pattern for his Christmas sweater because it looked like it would be a great challenge — not difficult, but requiring some thought and new-to-me techniques, such as the saddle shoulder.

My first saddle shoulder

I have successfully tackled the saddle shoulders on this sweater. The first one, which I started Saturday night, was quite a challenge at first. After reading the pattern instructions several times I just couldn’t get my head around what I was supposed to do. I decided to start doing what the instructions said, and as soon as I cast on for the cable and had the three needles in my hands something clicked in my head and it became clear to me. It was slow going at first as I learned the pattern, but soon I was able to do it quickly. I worked on the second saddle shoulder last night, and it took a fraction of the time the first one did.

I’m still debating how I feel about the saddle shoulder. I think it looks great, at least as a part of this pattern where the cable starts at the neck and goes all the way down the sleeve and looks really nice. And, even better, I did not have to seam the shoulders together! I hate seaming. The only drawback is that it took forever. Although the second saddle shoulder went much more quickly than the first, it still took over an hour. Ordinarily this might not be a problem, but this is a gift that is past due. If I had seamed the shoulders (or, even quicker, done a three-needle bind off), it would have taken a fraction of the time, I figure I would be done with the sleeves instead of just starting the second sleeve.

In the end, I think it’s going to look great when Tim wears it, and that’s most important.

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Christmas comes whether you are ready or not

Posted by Andi on December 25, 2010

Tim and I exchanged gifts this morning. He got me a copy of Amigurumi Knits by Hansi Singh because he saw me ogling a copy at a local yarn store. Here’s what Tim got:

Merry Christmas, Tim!

Clearly, I didn’t finish the sweater in time for Christmas. I’ve made a lot of progress, though. I finished the back and am almost done with the front. That leaves the saddle shoulders, sleeves, and hood to finish. A few weeks ago I feared the sweater wouldn’t be ready in time, so when I saw that Threadless was having a $9 t-shirt sale I bought two for Tim so he would have something to open on Christmas (and two for me that I have been wanting for years). When the package arrived I showed Tim the two t-shirts I bought myself so that he wouldn’t become suspicious and wonder if the package had gifts for him in it. As he was admiring my shirts, he mentioned that he had seen a Threadless t-shirt he really liked, the Space Invaders shirt. I got very excited because one of the shirts I got him was a Space Invaders shirt, and without thinking I ran into the other room, grabbed the package with his two t-shirts in it, ran back into the room and, pulling out the Space Invaders shirt, said, “Do you mean this one??!!” I was so excited that I picked out the shirt he had wanted without knowing that I blew the surprise. Oh well. The sweater wasn’t a surprise either.

[Edited to add: After posting this picture on Ravelry I realized what bag it was in. It has a Franklin Habit cartoon depicting someone giving a loved one a sweater for Christmas! Ha! Only Tim is definitely not an ingrate :)]

I may have completed more of the sweater yesterday, but we decided to go to the Christkindlmarket.


It was the 15th year the market has been at the Daley Center, and I had never gone. Since I had Christmas Eve off work for the holiday and we had no other plans, we decided this would be a good day to go to the market. There were lots of lovely hand-made gifts.

glass ornament

Most were made of glass, such as ornaments or glasses, or wood. There were lots of beautiful wood carvings. I wanted a cuckoo clock.

Handmade gifts

We saw some things we wanted for ourselves, and some items that would have made great gifts for members of our family had our Christmas shopping not already been complete. Next year my goal is to go earlier in the season so I could do some actual Christmas shopping there instead of just browsing.

I should have bought this ornament anyway. Chicago Snowman!!!

Chicago snowman

The market is known for its German food. There was no way I was walking out of there without trying the potato pancakes. I haven’t eaten potato pancakes in years, and these were awesome.

Potato pancakes

The potato pancakes were not enough for lunch, so I also got a sandwich.

German sandwich

The meat was kind of like Spam, but way less processed. It was really good. Tim loves sausages, and there were plenty for him to choose from. But when he saw this very long sausage it was obvious it was the one he would have to try.

Long sausage

We were lucky to find a place to eat inside where it was heated. Although the light snow added to the atmosphere of the market, I didn’t want to eat in it. We washed our yummy food down with Gluhwein, which was delicious. We decided to stop at the spice store on the way home to pick up mulling spices to use with the bottle of wine we got from our landlord for Christmas. FYI, Penzey’s mulling spices are very good!

As long as I’m posting Christmas-related content, here is the skein of yarn I scored at my knitting group’s holiday party this past week:

Fibranatura Yummy

It’s Fibranatura Yummy. It’s sport weight. And I love it. It’s green!!!! And I think I have already decided what I am going to make with it. I have a few sock patterns that call for sport weight yarn as opposed to fingering weight yarn, so I think I will use one of those patterns. We shall see!

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Thai food, for real

Posted by Andi on December 17, 2010

I ate my way through Thailand. Really. We ate so much food. Tim’s family wanted us to try as much authentic Thai food as we could, and trust me, we did and were happy to do it. I wish I would have remembered to take pictures of more of the food that we ate, but usually as soon as it came to the table we just started eating it.

After we got off the plane, we went to 7-11 (they are everywhere) and got some snacks.

I was pretty tired when we got off the plane, so I didn’t notice that these were not the regular flavor Cheetos. Based on the taste and the picture of the hot dog I’m guessing that they were chili dog flavor. They were tasty.

Tim chose these fish snacks. They were good too.
Some sort of fish snack Tim ate.

This was my breakfast on the first morning. I think they are tom yum noodles. Very good.

This was mango and sticky rice we got at the Pattaya Floating Market. This was, without a doubt, the best mango I have ever eaten in my life.
Mango and sticky rice

We also at these scallops at the Pattaya Floating Market. They were grilled on the little shells. The sauce in the middle was very spicy, and very delicious.

Okay, so this isn’t Thai food, but it was food we ate in Thailand so… We stayed by the beach in Pattaya where there was a lot of Western food. Tim ordered a pork knuckle. As you can see, it was huge. See the fork for scale. It as at a place called Hopf Haus, which brewed its own beer (we had some of that, too). The place serves German and Italian food. I had pizza.
The pork knuckle Tim ordered

I drank coconut water on the beach. That was sweet on a variety of levels.
Cocnut water is tasty

I had this soup at a little restaurant near Wat Arun. I got the thinnest noodles they had with pork balls. There were bean sprouts in there too. I added some chili flakes. Best. Noodles. Ever.
Noodles and pork balls

This is a Chinese cake made by older gentleman in the photo below. We shared those cakes for breakfast over several days while we were traveling up in the northern part of the country.
Chinese cake
The man who makes the Chinese cakes

Here is a restaurant we ate at. I assure you the food was good, but I was more interested in taking pictures of the restaurant and its environment than I was in photographing the food.
Check this out, I ate lunch here!

We had a great dinner in Chiang Mai restaurant where we had some authentic northern food. Again, I was more interested in taking pictures of the restaurant than the food.

We had a dinner at a restaurant with northern food in Bangkok with Tim’s family. I actually took pictures of some of the food there.
Northern style food
Northern style food
Northern style food
Northern style food

I love pocky, but only had one box while I was in Thailand. This was lychee pocky and it was awesome. I wonder if I can find any around here.
Lychee pocky - Thai side

Here are curry noodles we had at a small little restaurant in Bangkok. I believe we had similar noodles in Lampang as well.
Curry noodles

This is coconut ice cream, which didn’t have the same texture as ice cream we have here. Tim and I wondered if it was made with coconut milk as opposed to cow’s milk, but we aren’t sure. Anyway, there were call kinds of add-ins for the ice cream, but not the chocolate chips or sprinkles or Reese’s peanut butter cups we see at Baskin Robbins or Cold Stone. The options were corn, peanuts, some jelly-like things, rice, barley, and maybe one or two other things. Tim’s cousin got corn and the jellies. Tim had peanuts and the jellies. I had mine with rice. Yum!
Cocount ice cream with rice

There was a ton of other awesome food we had. The best pineapple ever. Fish. We both fell in love with fried morning glory. The street food was awesome.

Speaking of street food, I got breakfast from a street cart one day. The man grilled thick white bread on one side. Then he put butter, a little bit of sugar, and some condensed milk on the hot side, then grilled the other side. It tasted like French toast. Fabulous.

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Vacation knitting, not!

Posted by Andi on December 12, 2010

My last post was written a few days before we left for vacation. Those few days, two weeks of vacation, and a week of getting over jet lag and catching up on everything that piles up while one is away and here we are, a month between posts.

For weeks before our trip I had been contemplating the sock projects I wanted to do on my trip. Yes, that’s projects with an s. It takes more than 30 hours each way to and from Thailand when you have a 12-hour layover each way, so I figured that would be a lot of knitting time. What else was I supposed to do for 12 hours in an airport? Although I hoped to get some sleep on the plane, with total flight time of 18 hours each way I knew I would be awake a fair bit and would need to knit.

I chose two projects. I got the yarn ready, which meant having to wind a hank. I printed out patterns. Only then did I look online to see if there were going to be any restrictions on my knitting needles. Sure enough, I found that I couldn’t carry on bamboo knitting needles (or any knitting needles for that matter) on planes bound for or departing South Korea, which is where our 12-hour layover was each way. I thought I could handle not knitting on the plane, but what was I supposed to do for those 12 hours in the airport?

I dropped one project, and packed the other one in my checked baggage. Over our first 36 hours in Bangkok I managed to cast on and knit the first four rounds of my sock. And that’s it. That’s all the knitting I did while I was on vacation. Even when we were driven to other parts of the country, I didn’t knit.

Instead I chose to read. I brought Gone with the Wind with me since a) it was 1000 pages long so I figured it would get me through the long flights and layovers, and b) it was a paperback so it wouldn’t weigh too much. And it worked out well.

It has been a long time since I read books for pleasure. Somewhere along the line I deemed it an unproductive use of my time. I only allowed myself to read for pleasure when at the gym, and I don’t belong to a gym anymore. During my commute I read magazines, not books. When I’m at home I knit, because that’s productive. If I’m reading a novel, when am I supposed to knit? Or catch up on those shows I’m behind on?

I’m starting to change my mindset. It is not 100% necessary to be productive all of the time. If I enjoy reading or anything else I should make the time to do it. Unfortunately I’m trying to work on Tim’s Christmas sweater, so I’ve been reading the book on my commute. Those magazines are piling up now!

This is a symptom of a bigger problem I have, which is not really relaxing. Thankfully I was able to take an evening of our trip and just rest in our room, or I would have dropped I’m sure. But I used to even think of vacation as having to go-go-go all the time. It was weird to relax on the beach. Recently, though, I’ve been considering taking trips where we can just chill out and relax somewhere. And read. And not be productive.

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