Thursday, September 1, 2011

Best Laid Plans

If you’ve made it this far then you’re on your way to a less stressful Christmas (if you figure out how to make it stress free without whiskey then let me know).

Let us review a couple of familiar sayings:

The best laid schemes of mice and men
Go oft awry

Anything that can go wrong will go wrong

These are key things to keep in mind as we start laying out the plans for the holidays.

Last year will always be named the slipper year to my friends and family as I laid the plan very carefully. You can read all about the problems I had in Christmas Has Come Early.

That Christmas was a learning experience. This year there will be swatching, back up knits and fully finishing projects before putting them aside (don’t put off felting).

Swatching is something we are all lectured to do. I admit that I skip swatching on scarves and shawls, but if something needs to fit or felt then I swatch and wash. Washing is a key thing because who knows what that sweater might do when it hits water? My mittens might stretch, my hat might bleed (finding out your red hat bleeds color when its pouring rain is not fun and people will look at you weirdly), my socks might become scratchy, or my sweater might become so fuzzy you lose stitch definition.

Back up knits are things you can easily stash dive for at 1am in the morning, already have the needles and pattern and can knit up in one day. Fingerless mittens, plain felted slippers, cowls, hats and bags are good ideas. Keep it simple, keep it quick. Plan your day around the project. Lets say you get distracted at your house too easily, grab a plain knit cowl with big circular needles, a bunch of yarn and hit the movies. There have been days I go see three movies at the theater and just knit (avoid popcorn as it can make needles slippery and stain the yarn).

Weaving in ends and felting items can be a hassle, but it takes time and the last thing you want to do is not be able to find a needle to weave in ends Christmas Eve or, I don’t know, find out the yarn you used for felted slippers does not actually felt. Don’t set yourself up for failure.

One of the other issues you might have is that though you planned perfectly, now that you’re actually sitting down and knitting the project, you hate it. The yarn squeaks on your needles, the variegated yarn is pooling horribly, or for any other reason that is not fixable with having a breather and a cup of coffee. If it’s just your not feeling it, go knit something else for the rest of the day and come back to it. If you’ve done this twice and are still not feeling it, frog and see what else you might be able to use the yarn for. Yarn that pools badly as a sock might just really want to be a shawl or a hat, (avoid mittens as the gauge and number of stitches might be similar and your back at square one).

Maybe keep a couple of back up patterns in your binder…

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