Saturday, January 5, 2013

2012 Knitting In Review

Brian and I have a tradition each year of sitting down together around New Year's and taking the time to think back through the previous year and look ahead to the next. This has been a really important event each year, as it helps us to be more intentional in our work lives, parenting and in our marriage. 

This year we decided it was time to invite the boys into our tradition and invite them to make some goals for themselves. We sat down as a family this week to talk about what we'd like this year to look like, things we'd like to do and changes we'd like to make. We ended up writing down several ideas for each person and now we're taking some time to think about them before committing to them for the year. I'll be sure to share when we settle on a plan!

I've also been working through my knitting goals from last year and ticking items off the list. Below is the original writing in black, and in blue I've added my comments for how progress actually went this year.

1. Complete 12 knitting projects by the end of the year. I'm admittedly aiming small, but we will be moving again in the first half of the year AND having a baby. There's canning season (and I just don't knit much then) plus I'd like to make friends with my sewing machine again at some point...

I completed 19 knits this year. Some have no photos yet. (I'm *awful* about keeping up with this on Ravelry!) 

Green Vanilla Socks 1/14
Striped Vanilla Socks 2/15
Ellie's February Sweater 3/14
Nephew's Puerperium 3/18
Lacy Julian Hat #1 3/19 
Ellie's Puerperium 3/23
Baby's Hemlock Blanket 4/12
Ellie's Vertebrae 4/24
Lacy Julian Hat #2 4/30
Wingspan 5/22
Little Fair Isle Hat 10/22
Helena 11/2
Lacy Julian Hat #3 11/27
Stripes Mittens for Ezra 12/15
Citron 12/16
Zsa Mask for Ezra 12/21
Zsa Mask for Ender 12/22
Stripes Mittens for Ender 12/24
Subtle Twist Hat 12/26

2. Knit from stash for most projects this yearAs I said the other day, my stash has hit an uncomfortable level for me and I really want the finished projects that are intended to come out of that pile of yarn. This isn't restrictive- I can still buy for other projects if I want, but most of this year's knitting will be from stash. Kelly is running a fun linky for this sort of thing- join up if you want to play along too!

I knit pretty well from stash, but I bought enough to more than replace what I used. It's all for planned projects, as I very rarely buy on impulse, but now I'm on a yarn diet until I finish several of those planned projects.

3. Complete 1 pair of socks. I love the idea of knitting socks and last year set out to knit at least 6 pair before getting derailed. Apparently I just don't have sock-knitting mojo. I planned for just 1 little sock per month last year, and I got about 2 socks in (and not even two socks of the same pair!) and called it quits. There are fit problems that I need to solve before I seriously move forward on sock knitting, but I'm determined to get 1 good pair for myself this year.

I knit 2 pair last year! By February 15 I had completed the Green Vanilla Socks and Striped Vanilla Socks. LOVE both pair, though the green is a touch too big. I learned a lot about fit between those two pair.

4. Learn to knit lace with bobbles. I see lots of lace shawls I really love that include bobbles, so I want to learn. I've made 1 half-hearted attempt at learning but really didn't have the time to sit down with it and gave up quickly. I will have the time this year at a couple of points- I just have to sit down and do it!

Not this year. My brain was just not up for complicating lace between late pregnancy, newborn and infant stage through 2012.

5. Learn to knit colorwork using both hands. I have done a small amount of colorwork, but I know I need to learn to do it holding one color in each hand. It will go faster and I'll ultimately be happier because of it. I just can't seem to get even tension with it yet, but I want to practice "the right way" this year so that I will do more color work. 

See above- with the new baby learning new things just didn't happen.

6. Learn the uses of other cast-ons and use them in the right situations. I rely heavily on the long-tail cast-on for pretty much everything because it's the cast-on I'm comfortable with. I've used other cast-ons when called for, but I want to really know why and when to use other cast-ons.

7. Improve my finishing techniques. I'm decent at kitchener stitch and mattress stitch, but I'd like to learn the three needle bind-off and sewn bind-offs. 

#6 and 7 saw a little bit of progress. I learned cast-ons and bind offs as called on in patterns, but didn't really get to explore this area like I wanted to last year. I have plans to work on this in 2013. I'll share more of my 2013 plans tomorrow!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

January Yarn-Along

{Yarning along with Ginny to share my current yarn and book loves}

I so love New Year's and what it does for my knitting.

After all that knitting for Christmas gifts for family through the fall I love to spend the week between Christmas and New Year's casting on for a few selfish projects.

The day after Christmas I started winding skeins and casting on: 

And last but not least, that lovely pale pink Berrocco Vintage featured in the photos above is for a little baby cardigan I sketched up in December. We'll see if anything comes of it or if the yarn goes into another little knit for Miss Ellie. The yarn will be for her, whether it is by my design or someone else's.

I'm also ready to cast on for a few more baby knits as soon as I finish a project or two. I have three little nieces or nephews due in the first 6 months of 2013, plus Ellie's first birthday so I'll need to get moving on those early on. I'm still deciding on the perfect patterns for these gifts, and I'll be sure to share when I do.

In book news, I'm working on the latest Jacqueline Carey novel, Dark Currents. I have a stack of food-related books waiting for me as well. We need a food re-boot for this season.

Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 In Books

I love keeping track of my reads each year, but this year has been a little slim.

New Baby, new house, back to work, learning to balance the new changes- this year was already pretty full and extras like fiction reading were pushed aside a bit.

My goal is to read 20 fiction titles every year and this year I only made it to 15. I read a lot of YA titles- a lot were recommended to me by my students, and I like to be able to talk with them about what they are reading. Ender is also reading longer and longer books on his own, so some of my reading has served as pre-reading for him.

I'll answer all the questions completely spoiler free.

What was the best new (to you) author you discovered this year? Veronica Roth. I really enjoyed Divergent and Insurgent and look forward to more books from her.

What was your favorite new (to you) series? Legend by Marie Liu. It wasn't officially a series when I read it, but the second book comes out next month and I'm eagerly awaiting it.

Book that made you cry? The Giver. Such a serious thing in such a small book- a book everyone should read. I read it in middle school for a class and I have read it a few more times since then. I have really enjoyed going back through some of my favorite childhood reads as an adult. The difference in perspective is so interesting to me.

Book that made you laugh out loud? All Wound Up by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee. Hilarious for knitters. :)

Book that totally changed your perspective on something? Okay, this is probably a silly answer, but Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith. He has written a bunch of books I will never ever read- I'm just not interested in reading a Pride and Prejudice that has been infested by zombies, you see. But after the raving review of a friend, I did read it and I *really* enjoyed this play on alternate history.

Best homeschooling book? I read shockingly little in the homeschooling genre aside from my yearly re-reads of The Core by Leigh Bortins, The Well-Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer and Real Learning by Elizabeth Foss. I think I can safely say that it's a reflection on how satisfied I am with our current learning pursuits. I don't really feel the need to explore other homeschooling methods/materials right now.

Worst book that you managed to finish? I don't really read bad books any more. I bail if I'm about 3 chapters in and I'm not interested by the main character. If I make it 4-5 chapters but the book hasn't really gone anywhere I ditch it too. 

That being said I will commit urban fantasy sacrilege and admit that I *really* didn't like City of Bones. It was just okay for me until I got to those last few chapters- I really had to force my way through. Without spoilers I'll just say I won't be seeing the movie unless I hear of a significant alteration in storyline.

Most disappointing Book? Mark of Athena. I don't know why I keep reading Percy Jackson books when I'm always so disappointed in the actual writing itself.

Best book-that-was-better-than-the-movie? Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith. The movie was perfectly fine (a little gory for me, but it IS a vampire thing after all) but as is usually the case, not as good as the book.

Most over-hyped book of the year? Hands down, City of Bones.

Best young adult book of the year? The Giver. I know it's not new, but it was my best read this year.

Book you’ve been meaning to read for years and finally got to? None this year, but I mean to tackle a few books on this list this year.

Read aloud that the family enjoyed the most? Several of the Magic Treehouse books have been light reads alongside our history reading this year and I think the one that really stood out to the boys was Hour of the Olympics.

Best non-fiction? Story of Science. I had a woefully sad science education, and I asked around for a really good place to start for foundational understanding for myself and this series was suggested. I'm working my way through and I think we're going to use the books as a basis for science ed starting in the next year or two.

All-around best story of the year? The Help. I don't think I've mentioned this one yet and it deserves a mention. This is not a book I would typically pick up but I did so after the recommendations of a few trusted reader friends and I *really* liked it.

Book that you feel is so integral to your library, you’d even pay full price for it?  This year it has been my canning books. Favorites include Canning for a New Generation, The Ball Home Preserving Book, and my new favorite Food in Jars.

Complete List of Fiction: (goal- 20)

1. Legend by Marie Liu (February)

2. The Taker by Alma Katsu (March)

3. A Voice in the Wind by Francine Rivers (March)

4. Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (April)

5. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins (April)

6. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins (April)

7. City of Bones by Cassandra Clare (May)

8. Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith (June)

9. The Help by Kathryn Stockett (July)

10. Divergent by Veronica Roth (August)

11. The Giver by Lois Lowry (September)

12.  Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry (September)

13. The Messenger by Lois Lowry (September)

14. Insurgent by Veronica Roth (October)

15. Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan (December)


1. Story of Science: Aristotle Leads the Way

2. Food in Jars

3. Put 'Em Up

4. Homemade Soda

5. Simple Food

Knitting and other craft books:

1. Knitting Rules! by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee

2. Big Book of Knitted Monsters by Rebecca Danger

3. Things I learned from Knitting by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee

4. Oliver + S Little Things to Sew by Liesl Gibson

5. Vintage Modern Knits by Courtney Kelley

6. The Knitter's Year by Debbie Bliss

7. Vintage Baby Knits by Kristen Rengren

8. Finishing School by Deborah Newton

9. Principles of Knitting by June Hiatt

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