Saturday, January 12, 2008

The Answer to All of My (Knitting) Problems

So I've never been much of a swatcher. In all honesty, I rarely swatch at all. If I do actually make a gauge swatch, I am never all that particular about it, and have been guilty of the whole "close enough" thing. If you are a serious swatcher, I am sure you are gasping at this point. I now understand. Here's my story.

I am working on a super secret project with a few friends. It's one of those joint projects, so all of our individual items need to match each other's. At first, I just wasn't all that concerned about gauge, and leaving up to the swatch gods as usual seemed to be a fine plan. However, soon after we received our knitting assignments for the project, emails began to circulate. Now let me tell you, not just one or two calm emails, but dozens of panicked emails of people claiming they were not getting the gauge the pattern had called for on the needles it suggested. This struck me as a point of concern for myself, and I made a mental note to actually, really, (try to) swatch for this project. I mean, I didn't want to be the one to screw everything up.

On new year's eve, I got together with a few close knitting friends. We had decided to ring in the new year by knitting (how awesome was that?!) and we planned to work on our joint project. Excellent, I thought. This will be my motivation to get started, and I'll just bring needles that were one size above as well as one size below the needles being suggested in the pattern. The pattern called for Size 7s, so I brought along my Size 6s, Size 7s, and Size 8s. I felt totally prepared. If only I had known...

Now let me clear my throat at this point. (Ah-hem.) I want to make sure I have your utmost attention.

I ended up getting gauge on Size 4s.

Needless to say, I had to borrow needles from one of the girls. I had not at all been prepared for that revelation. Size 4s? Really? But I had Kara check it for me, a few times, actually. And yes, I was getting gauge on Size 4s.

So do you think this explains why all of my knitted items have always turned out so big up to this point?

"I, Kathy," (raises right hand) "do hereby promise to (try to remember to) do a gauge swatch for all projects from here forth."

Who knew I was such a loose knitter?!

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Where To Begin

So I've been working on making my New Year's Resolution list. No, make that lists. Last year, I made a list of 10 crafting goals. I only achieved 5 of them. Or maybe I should look at the glass half full, and say I achieved 5 of them! (I think I like that better - I must resolve to be more positive.) Anyway, here are the ones I accomplished:
  1. Knitted my first sweater (although it wasn't the Hourglass Sweater that I had originally intended for my first sweater project. It actually ended up being Wicked. Which doesn't really fit. But we don't need to focus on those minor details, do we?)
  2. Finished knitting my first pair of socks.
  3. Joined a Stitch n' Bitch group.
  4. Learned to knit from a chart (which is now how I prefer to knit whenever possible.)
  5. Learned to knit cables (on a pair of Fetchings, as I had intended.)

So, not too bad really. It was obviously a big year for me knitting-wise. I really feel proud that I attempted so many new things this year, not only techniques, but meeting new people and starting new jobs, all that involve knitting. Wow - what an awesome year!

So, now for my list of crafting goals for this year. (Some of them have just graduated from last year's list to this year's list, but whatever.)

2008 Crafting Goals

  1. Learn to knit color work (fair isle and intarsia.)
  2. Learn to crochet.
  3. Learn to sew.
  4. Learn Adobe Photoshop, and possibly update my blog with it.
  5. Blog at least once a week.
  6. Knit only from stash; no yarn purchases (This will be accomplished by participating in the Yarn Diet, which I'll explain more later.)
  7. Bead at least one project each month.
  8. Finish all projects within 1 year of their start date (This means that anything that has been started on January 1, 2008 must either be completed or frogged by January 1, 2009. This also means that anything that is on my needles as of today must be off my needles by this day next year. No more UFOs lying around forever.)

So, I've also been working on a list of more personal goals for 2008. As a lot of you know, I have Bipolar Disorder II, and have really struggled with things in the not so distant past. Depression used to dominate my decisions and my way of life, and I would isolate myself. I also "self-medicated" with "retail therapy." Unfortunately, retail therapy was actually a compulsive shopping addiction, which had gotten so out of control that I had stopped spending time with friends, and instead spent hours online or in the stores, alone, secretly shopping, and racking up huge credit card bills.

I have been working hard on getting and staying mentally healthy all year. I finally felt like I had the depression under control. I believed things were really looking so much better, except for this one huge secret I was hiding. Just a couple of weeks ago, I reached my breaking point with the shopping. I spent a lot of time crying, talking with my therapist, and then took what I thought was the hardest step. I admitted my problem to my friends, and asked for help. Many of my goals for 2008 involve the changes I need to make because of all of this. I think this is a very good thing. 2007 was a year of tremendous growth for me, and I now feel much more prepared to deal with things.

2008 Personal Goals

  1. Stop shopping.
  2. Get finances in order by contacting Consumer Credit Counseling.
  3. Limit Internet surfing time each day (I haven't really decided how much time I should allow myself. Maybe I could set a timer? I just know that if I can spend less time on the Internet, I will spend more time with friends, and that is important to me. Plus, if I could fantasize less and actually knit more, think of how many projects I can complete this year!)
  4. Keep in better contact with friends. This means answering the phone when they call, making the effort to call them, and keeping up with emails. This also means not cancelling plans with them.
  5. Be in bed with lights out by 11:30pm on work nights. (It's super-important for me to stay on a fairly regular schedule. However, I am such a night owl!)
  6. Eat healthier. This means cooking more and eating less sweets (I know I need more details there; I will continue to refine this one.)
  7. Attend church at least once a month.
  8. Work on balancing out my time alone and my time spent with others (I have a hard time saying no. I have to keep reminding myself that it's ok to spend a relaxing day at home with no plans, and that I should actually schedule that time.)

Whew! I have a lot to work on this year. I honestly get so excited about making all of these lists. My sister likes to give me a hard time - she says she never makes new year's resolutions, and she teases me about making lists for everything!

So, now for the Yarn Diet. Kara and I had already been discussing our plans for a yarn diet over the past 2 weeks or so. Last night, while we were knitting in the new year, she and I, plus Kim and Mindy, discussed it as a group and have made it official. I think it is an awesome plan!

The 2008 Yarn Diet

Dates: January 1, 2008 until Stitches Midwest (August 21, 2008) Participants: Kim, Kara, Kathy, Mindy


  1. Needles/accessories/tools are ok.
  2. You can purchase yarn to finish a project if you run out.
  3. Roving/fiber does not count (This really only applies to Kim at this point, she's our only spinner.)
  4. Gift yarn/gift certificates are ok (to give and receive.)
  5. You are allowed to purchase up to 3 knitting-related books.
  6. Magazines don't count.
  7. Trading yarn in the group is ok.
  8. Kim's exceptions - can buy yarn for 2 baby gifts and a wedding gift.


For each week that you do not buy yarn, you put aside an designated amount of money (say $5.00) that you will be able to spend at Stitches Midwest. If you buy yarn, you must take the amount of money you used to purchase it out of your Stitches fund and donate it to a charity of your choice. At the end of the diet, the money left in the fund can be spent at Stitches Midwest. Mindy also suggested that we could also possibly add to our fund by putting a designated amount of money in when we complete a project.

This is perfect for me. First, I have people to be accountable to. Second, we are already planning/saving for our trip to Stitches Midwest!

So, what are your resolutions?