I have been finishing things like there is no tomorrow.  Really.  Because it feels like Christmas is tomorrow and I haven't even started my Christmas knitting.  Not that I have a whole lot.  I think I have actually been fairly reasonable this year.  And it is only October. 
Anyway, I've been trying to finish off some long standing projects as a way of procrastinating.  I've decided not to start any new projects just yet, despite the inviting whispers coming from one of my new knitted lace doilies books.  And before you even murmur "Who needs a doily, you've made tons you aren't doing anything with" I would say that doilies seem like a good road to getting comfortable with a technique, and if I'm ever going to knit the lace shawl of my dreams (which I will only wear in my dreams) then I should get comfortable with the technique. 
Okay, well, enough with the suspense, the Plum sweater is basically finished.  I realized looking back that the first time I posted about it was in February, so, as a reminder for everyone, here is a photo from the original instruction pamphlet:
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And here is my nearly finished product:
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This poor thing was sitting in a tote bag for months, front and back finished, sleeves finished, just waiting for me to get over my anxiety of side seams.  Well I did.  And also this was my first experience with steam blocking, which, as far as I could tell from my research, amounts to ironing the sweater from the back.  
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The torso of the sweater may be a little short to wear with jeans, but it works great with a high waisted skirt.  I'm sure that is what it was planned for.  Judging by the model, I don't think that she wore dungarees unless she was out on the farm or something.  If you look closely at the first photo, you can see the pearlescent snaps along the right shoulder.  Those were quite a pain, and I'm still not totally sure that they will stay.  Perhaps it was the thick knitting, or maybe the lack of special snap applying pliers, but somehow they just don't want to stay.  
The reason I say almost finished is because the original pattern called for "Parapads, the ready made shoulder pad."  I had thought I could get by without shoulder pads, but I think, now, that they would actually add something to the garment so I'm going to have to get some.  I'm putting it off though, because it has been boiling here temperature wise, and I don't really care to wear a fair isle double thick wool sweater right now.
And finally, another little knit co-worker gift as part of what my husband is calling the office beautification project, some happy little fuchsia flowers:
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The plums are coming along swimmingly.  Here is one of the sleeves.  It may or may not be too long, I guess we'll find out later.  The directions say to make the sleeve 19 1/2 inches before the decreases start, and I hate to futz with directions the first time around.  But with the cuff turned back, as pictured here, I think it will be fine.  Also there are supposed to be some shoulder pads in the finished product, so those should take up some extra arm fabric as well.  If there is no extra arm fabric then there will be no shoulder pads I guess.
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Also worthy of note: a friend sent me a link to Reknit, where, for thirty dollars, one mails an old sweater to them, the mother of the site designer unravels it and re-knits it into something else.  It appears to be some kind of mom sweat shop.  No, not really, but it does bring up some "serious" questions in my mind. [Ed. note: I added the quotation marks while I was re-reading this, I mean really, serious is when your circular needle breaks and all the stitches fall off, these are more musings.]  This re-knitting seems just fine on the surface, and there are many ladies out there who do this themselves, but those ladies are searching Goodwills for very specific sweaters.  Most commercially produced sweaters found at Goodwill are made by terrible corporations who think it is fine to just make bolts of knitted fabric, cut them into the shapes they need, serge the edges, and then sew it into a sweater shape (a shape that fits great and has none of those imperfections that spell out L-O-V-E).  When you unravel such a beast you end up with a lot of short pieces of yarn.  The mother daughter team of Reknit don't provide any direction on their site about what kinds of sweaters to send, which makes me wonder, is this magical little knitting mother splicing many short pieces of yarn together?  Weaving in innumerable ends?  If only knitters were sending items to be re-knit, then it might be more likely that they would send more easily unravelable items, but I can't imagine, via email, that it would be very easy to explain to a non-knitter what to look for in a sweater's insides to ensure that it was made of one continuous piece of yarn.  I think it is an interesting idea, and a nice service.  I'm a little surprised also that they don't play up the sentimental angle, you know, have your child's favorite sweater made into a scarf, something like that.  I guess people can make that leap on their own.  
The quilt hasn't grown enough for another pictures, and I've got other projects that are also in their infancy.  I'm awaiting the arrival of a non-needle related craft kit, which I think I will still post images of here, because, as a photo from the website will show, it is amazing.  
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UPDATE: My mom tells me she heard about Reknit on NPR and that it is a mother-SON team, not mother daughter.  Me and my sexist assumptions.  It would seem that children of any sex can put their moms to work.  After reading the NPR article, now I'm just outraged for this woman.  I mean, I understand that she is not being forced at gunpoint to knit scarves, but 7-8 hours of work for $30!  This is why I am always very polite but firm with people who suggest that I sell my stuff. 
 
  First off, a few little delicious tidbits from a few weeks ago.  The combination of knitting gifts and having this blog can be an awkward one.  I don’t want to post photos of gifts before they are given, and then by the time they are given, I’m too lazy to go back and post.  Here, however, are some photos of gifts.
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One is another little mouse.  This guy was also made with sock yarn, but with size 00 needles instead of 000.  The change in needle size made it much easier to make the little bobbles that are his feet and hands and don’t seem to actually have affected size all that much.  And the stuffing doesn’t come through the holes in the knitting or anything like that. 
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The second gift is a little nest pin cushion.  I have a friend who once told me how she thought the nest was a very nice symbol of home.  Ever since then when I see nests on necklaces or screen prints, I think of her, but my bank account doesn’t really allow for random silver nest purchase, nor, do I think, she would appreciate me filling up her house with nests.  However, when I saw this nest in Closely Knit by Hannah Fettig, and I probably saw it now about a year and a half ago, I thought of my friend and decided that some time, I would make it.  So, after a year and a half, the stars aligned, I had dark brown and egg blue in DK weight.  I couldn’t find all of my dp size 6 that the pattern call for, so I did try to make the nest on size 3 first (I’m sure if there is a way to use smaller needles and yarn then I will).  The nest itself is done in a pretty simple K2, cable 2, K2, cable 2 cable stitch.  You can’t really see it in the pictures, and you can’t even really see it on the nest, but it is ultimately worth it I guess.  Using the size 3s and doing the cables made the nest very tight and tense and hard, not quite the effect I was going for.  But then while doing a massive reorganization of my yarns, sorting by weight instead of date purchase J, I found the rest of my size 6 dpns, don’t ask me what they were doing away from their friends.  The next nest was much more successful.  I’ve seen on other blogs, that people felt the need to block the nest, but I did not feel such a need.  Mine had good structure (and I hate blocking anyway).  I used a little purchased bird as the directions suggested.  I did ponder making a knit bird, but in the end, I wanted to be able to send off the project and the little bought bird does give the nest somehow a more homey, thrift store type feel that I like. 
Also, no offence meant to the author, but I could not stand the directions for making the eggs.  I’m not sure if I’m just a sloppy provisional caster-oner, or if there is some other malfunction in my knitting, but casting on, and knitting in one direction, and then casting off and picking up the stitches in the middle and knitting in the other direction did not work for me.  If you want an easy egg, here  you go:
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Easy Egg

Materials: 4 size 6 dpns, a little stuffing, a little egg colored yarn

Onto 3 size 6 dpns, cast on 6 stitches, 2 on each needle.

Row 1: Knit 1 round

Row 2: *k1, make 1, k1*, repeat twice more (9 total stitches)

Row 3: *k3, make 1*, repeat twice more (12 total stitches)

Rows 4-8: Knit 5 rounds

Row 9: *k2, k2tog*, repeat twice more (9 total stitches)

Rows 10-11: Knit 2 rounds

It is a good idea to go ahead and stuff the egg now, as the next two decrease rows would make it hard to do so afterward. 

Row 12: *k1, k2tog*, repeat twice more (6 stitches total)

Row 1: *k2tog*, repeat twice more (3 stitches total)

Cut yarn, draw cut end through remaining 6 stitches on needles and pull tight.  Use cast on end to sew any hole remaining at the bottom together. 
I’m not sure what else you could do with knitted eggs besides put them into little nests.  They seem to make great, if short lived, cat toys, though this was not discovered on purpose.  Also, I must say, the nest makes a great cat sized bowler hat. 
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Other updates include the quilt which grows when I grow board of plums
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And the plums, which grow when I get board of the fact that you can’t carry a quilt around with you and whip it out at social gatherings.   The back is all finished and I’m at present working on one of the arms, in order to feel like I’m making more progress, working with fewer stitches, and also to gauge the actual amount of yarn this project is going to take by working exactly half a sweater. 
 
Bring on the plums!
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Here are some pics of the first line of the pattern for my soon (I hope soon) to be too charming plum sweater.  The switching of colors leads to much twisted yarn, but at this point I still feel like it is worth it.  The original was meant to be cherries, but I think this color scheme of plums better suits my needs.  Just so we can all marvel at what I shall have soon, here is a pic of the original.
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I'm practicing this pose every day in the mirror just to be ready...
 
  Well, a long time with no posts. This is accounted for by the lack of finished projects I've had recently and the great number of crafting failures. I don't take these failures to heart, but I also didn't really want to post about them. But what the heck, everyone has them.
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 1. My sweater. I found thissweater pattern on Knitty perhaps almost a year ago. I got the yarn for my birthday (in October). It is Adrienne Vittadini, Natasha, in Truffle. It is the yarn used in the sample on the site. In general I am squeamish about changing the yarn used in the original project for reasons which will become clear further on. The benefit of using the fancy yarn recommended by a project months after the project has been designed is that the yarn is usually on sale by that point. The lovely folks at the California Yarn Company were able to supply me the million balls of yarn needed for this sweater at ½ price. I held on to the yarn for some time, making all the socks and things that appear here. I live on the California Central Coast, so it is cold in the summer, a perfect time to make and wear my new sweater. I knit a swatch. I don't know why I do this. Invariably I'm more careful when knitting the swatch then when doing my actual knitting and the stitches come out smaller than when I'm actually knitting. What this means is that for every project for which I've knit a swatch, no joke, I've gone up a needle size to accommodate my small stitches and ended up with a giant thing that I have to frog and start over on the originally recommended needle size. Well, guess what happened with my sweater... I got the back, both front pieces, and one sleeve done. I held that sleeve up to my arm and had flash backs to the first sweater I made, a fair-isle disaster that would have fit the chimpanzee President of the United States, but not a human with normally proportioned arms. Well, that was two weeks ago. Since then, I took a short break from the sweater and then went at it again with such gusto that my wrist hurts most of the time, but, i've got a back, two front pieces and most of a sleeve. I'm on pins and needles until that first sleeve is done.

 2.  I can't post pictures, but I've got some Christmas projects going. Let me just say that photographs are deceiving and that the photo of a Christmas thing that you think looks adorable and cute is actually going to be giant when it shows up at your home. And if you think you can solve this problem with smaller needles and smaller yarn without altering the actual number of rows and stitches, well then my friend, you are as misguided as I. Rows will have to be taken out at the very least. I'll let you know when I've had the heart to take my misshapen objects apart and try again. I hope it is before November.

 

3.  And though I don't find it to be a failure, that had ended up a little unsatisfactory.  The band never quite got how I wanted it.  Again I credit needle size, changing yarn from that recommended, and not blocking. You know, you can only take a project apart so many times before you can't anymore. Its recipient claims to be pleased.  I will say that if he ever decides to grow some hair, the extra room in the band might come in handy. 
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 In a nut shell that is what I've been doing for the past two months. On the up side, I did finish my family tree. Here it is in all its full glory. Not sure when I will get it framed, or how I will contrive to get back into it as my husband and I have little additions, but I try to remind myself that a sane person wouldn't worry about that now.
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 Despite the number of recent failures, the future looks bright. I would like to use this forum to say that the people at Jimmy Beans Wool are wonderful. I placed an order on Friday night, Friday! And on Monday it was waiting for me when I got home! The yarn is lovely, perfect for a little baby who's gender you don't know one might say.  Here is another project like the Christmas ones that I won't be posting pictures of until after it has been gifted.  Also, it is a wool/cotton blend, and claims it can be machine washed, also perfect for a baby.

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 I have found a new love for Jimmy Beans, mostly because they are such a more plesant experience than some other jerk craft supply companies, and if you've never ordered from them in the past you will perhaps be encouraged to by the fact that they send you candy. I've seen other people post about this as well, but I just thought it was worth mentioning and documenting. The last time I ordered from them the candies were Werther's and now they are Brach's.  The economic downturn effects everyone in its own way.
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  And just as a capper, two more projects in progress, both critters, one is a hermit crab (without a head for the moment) from Hansigurumi's Etsy shop, and the other will be a monster some day...