I'm playing photo catch-up again.  Click the image for a link to the pattern.
It feels good to be friends with my knitting again!  On Friday there was no knitting because my husband and I went up to San Francisco to go to one of SF Sketchfest events.  We saw Ronna and Beverly live.  It was a fun night, and a late night driving back, but totally worth it. If you live in the bay area, there are various Sketchfest events going on all through February, so check it out.  
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A wonderfully simple shawl I made for my boss who was kind enough to give me the yarn for Christmas.
The most thrilling part of Friday for me, however, was that I ordered Kate Davies new book, Colours of Shetland, and the yarn to make the Puffin Sweater.  Yes, in those colors, I wish I was wearing it right now already!
The yarn is literally coming from the Shetland Islands, (famous for their knitting, as well as tiny horses, for those not in the know.)  
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The yarn was madelinetosh prairie and it was a pleasure to work with.
Pretty much everything about ordering from the UK is charming to my American ears, so the fact that I ordered from Jamieson & Smith Shetland Wool Brokers is just like icing on the cake.  Also the international shipping was the same as what a local would have paid in value added tax, so, excepting the longer wait, I've already had a great customer experience.  
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Tiny Loch Ness Monster admires a tiny sweater with ukuleles around the yolk. (An old project I recently photographed and why not share it?)
Also, let it be known that despite the fact that the extra cable for my Addi Clicks arrived, I have not started Wedding Gift Blanket: The Return.  (Although that makes it sound like it is a wedding gift you can return, which we all know is the major kind of guilty failing of handmade gifts: the giftees have to keep them.  How about Wedding Gift Blanket 2: Knitting Boogaloo?)  Anyway, the cable arrived, but I was so comfortably ensconced in Wedding Gift Blanket one that I didn't even feel tempted to start. 
Upon ordering the Kate Davies self-gift basket, I knew I had better dig in to these Mom's Birthday Socks (which started my tizzy in the first place), and, in fact, yesterday I finished one.  So one more to go, well on schedule.  The second sock should take only about 1/2 the time of the first, because most of the time spent on this sock was spent trying to figure out the heel instructions, which, I don't know, they weren't really badly written once I figured out what they were trying to say, but they did confuse the heck out of me, so there is that against them.  
 
In knitting news: I persevere with these continental purls.  I did catch myself doing purls continental style once by instinct, but I've also caught a few English purls cropping up when the going gets tough.

In non-knitting news: I've been lead to reading Mrs. Miniver through another blog I read, Jean's Knitting.  It turns out there is a free copy of the book available on-line and I am just so totally charmed by it.  Honestly, who can resist:
In childhood the daylight always fails too soon -- except when there are going to be fireworks; and then the sun dawdles intolerably on the threshold like a tedious guest.
Hooray for Joyce Maxtone Graham, the author, who, apparently sometimes signed her letters Joyous.   
 
Oh you guys!  I'm beginning to understand what blog after blog has been telling me.  I'm beginning to have a desire to go to Iceland.  After all that priming, I guess all I needed was a bag of surprise yarn and this postcard below to convince me.  
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I mean really, look at these guys (and gals?)
The caption on the post card say:
A woolly coat comes in handy in most parts of Iceland, and the wool from Icelandic sheep is famous for its dual quality of warmth and lightness.  A protected breed, the Icelandic Sheep has remained genetically the same for over 1000 years.  Sheep roam freely all over the countryside in the spring and summer months, and are only rounded up in the fall.  
Work continues on the wedding gift blanket, and that cable I ordered in my fit of pique has almost arrived, which means I could start wedding gift blanket #2, but I think I'm almost ready to return to mother's birthday socks, which is what threw me into the tizzy in the first place :) 
 
I forgot to say yesterday that I also devoted time on Sunday to getting a handle on doing a consistent continental purl.  I turned to a favorite knitting resource, knittinghelp.comHere is a link to the page of videos on purl stitch techniques.  Perhaps necessity is the mother of invention, or maybe it is just luck, the wedding gift blanket has a lot of purling, and so I've been able to practice my technique.  I don't think what I'm doing can completely be called a continental purl because I'm not wrapping the yarn around my finger extra times to maintain tension.  I don't do this with my continental knit stitches either.  I can see that I seem to be getting much closer to the same tension now on my knit and purl rows in stockinette stitch (my English style purls were looser than my continental knits, you know, no so you would notice, but I knew). 
I really can't post without a picture.  (We'll see how long that lasts...)  So here is a "picture" of the wedding gift blanket. 
I'm 60% finished!  Three horizontal patterns down, two to go.  Perhaps I should be working on other projects that have sooner due dates, but after the recent bout of craft dis-pleasure, it feels good to be getting along on something.  
 
I spent yesterday up in Oakland with my friend Amynta while our guys were on a fishing trip.  I did about 1 inch on my wedding gift blanket and provided moral and technical support to my friend while she finished a Hansi Singh octopus that I helped her start on a Yosemite camping trip in 2010.  Hansi's patterns are challenging, but so worthwhile.  I credit them with bringing my own knitting skills along much faster than I think they would have otherwise progressed.  They use every shaping and grafting technique in the book, and at the end you have a lovely little toy.  
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Here is the proud knitter and her creation. (Click the image for a link to the pattern)
I won't post pictures of the wedding gift blanket, maybe some close ups in a little while, but here's a picture of what it looked like when I took it apart the first time.  Perfect may be the enemy of the good, but I can't knit what I don't enjoy, as should surely be apparent from yesterday's post.  
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Big bag of yarn ramen
I'm posting this picture to emphasize that I take every project apart at least once.  I'm just going to have to learn to celebrate that fact, cause it's reality.  
 
This blog has been silent for a little while, while I try to figure out what to do with it.  I've decided that an exercise in daily writing is a good way to get out of this indecisive phase, and as an example, the following is writing from Friday night and Saturday night.   I've thrown in some photos of finished items for the last little bit of time to keep things light :)  Each photo is linked to the pattern if you're interested.  Here we go...
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Baby sweater for sweet baby Mara (sweater from a LYS, not on-line)
Friday night:

Oh my gosh, knitting frustration!  I have at least 9 work-in-progress projects going on right now.  And I don't want to work on any of them.  Is the solution to start a new project?  It certainly seemed hopeful.  The first project I tried to start called for size 13 circular needles.  I checked, and I have no regular set of 13 circulars.  I have two interchangeable needle sets, one of which goes up to size 11, and the other one does have size 13s.  Good news, except that I only have the shortest cable available for that set.  It is 9:30 pm at this point, so I can't run to the store.  Husband points out that I could order another large cable.  This wouldn't help me in the moment, but, I tell myself, I can endure this crazy for a few more days, so I order one from Amazon.  But I still want to knit to relax and I still don't want to work on any of my current projects.  
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Hot Fudge Sundae Socks for my mom
Maybe I could start something else that is ready to go.  Maybe a hat that I bought the yarn for last Christmas.  Let's see, that wants size 10 double pointed needles.  I don't have those, but I can come up with two size 10 circulars on the short cables between the two interchangeable sets.  Let me just check gauge before I'm off and running on this... oh, I have 8 stitches per inch instead of the 6 required by the gauge.  And, the fabric already seems like it is too loose, and when you stretch it, you can see through the "holes", no good for a hat.  Going up in needle size to get the right gauge would make the fabric even looser.  Could I hold two strands of the yarn together?  Yes, but then I wouldn't have enough yarn to finish the project, and this yarn is actually discontinued I've had it in my stash for so long.  
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Thank you gift for the wonderful woman who made my husband's kilt
Hm, maybe I should start some complicated doily, because I finally have some size 30 thread.  No, I know that is a bad idea for what is now 10 pm.  I'll just work on this reversible project that I started in 2009 and picked up again recently. It is a little tedious because there are so many stitches per row, but it has a certain appeal.  You know, after the gauge being so off on that hat, maybe i should just check it on this for a lark.  Oh, I'm 2 stitches off on the vertical and horizontal gauge, oh, and I also just learned a much prettier way to join the sides.  So, I guess I should take it apart?  but each row takes around 20 min.  I don't want to take it apart, but on the other had, I still have much further to go on the project than I've already gone.    
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Christmas ornaments
Saturday night:

After a morning of continuing to bemoan my situation, I awoke from a nap to a mail delivery of the most lovely Icelandic yarn from a friend who just came back from a trip.  
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Beautiful surprise wool from Iceland
The colors are beautiful and the sentiment is charming.  Alright, I'm feeling better.  I planned to go to a bagpipe jam session with my husband that night, and had thought I would bring a project to while away the hours, but in my current state I was beside myself as to what that project would be.  
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Observe, I had the perfect eye stalk button in my button box!
Ultimately I decided to go back to a wedding gift project that is due in August that I hadn't worked on since October (a conservative estimate).  What a good project to return to!  Cables to keep things interesting, 100% wool yarn, one eye calming cream color.  Pleasant music, and a lovely bunch of German women who happened to be there who lavished my project with ego boosting praise and then descended upon me trying to show me how to do a continental purl stitch.  
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Friend commissioned baby two-toed sloth
There were three women, two were mother and daughter, and each had her own slightly different continental purl technique and each felt her own way made the most sense, and it was such a nice moment of knitter fellowship and so charming to be literally hugged from behind by one of the women while she grabbed my hands and  attempted to lead them through her version of a purl.  So i'm back in the game, inching my way back to relaxing knitting.  
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Everyone cuddles when they're cuddly!
And that's why i need to write every day here, because the experience of knitting is so mercurial to me and I want to try to document it, maybe for 2 weeks?