Monday, September 10, 2012

Christmas - Phase 5 - It's About Time

Here is a scary thought. There are 105 days till Christmas, or exactly 15 weeks.

Everyone should have sorted out the Chistmas knitting and have an idea of what they are up against.

Next you need to take your list and make a guess of how long it will take you to make it and it's difficulty rating. I use this scale for difficulty:

0 - Plain Sock Level - I can walk, talk, and knit at the same time. Does not take any looking at.

1 - Simple Shawlette Level - I can talk and knit at the same and only takes looking at on occasion.
2 - Mitten Level - Has parts that need dedication to, but there are parts that rank a 0.

3 - Simple Blanket - The hardest part is the dedication
4 - Patterned Shawlette - The lace pattern can be memorized, but you still have to check the directions on occasion.

5 - Simple Sweater - Will take dedication and lots of pattern reading, but still parts I can read a book at.
6 - Patterned Scarf - A scarf with chart that needs looking at for the first 5 repeats. The other 20 repeats are made up of dedication
7 - Cowl - Repeats that stack and are worked in the round.

8 - Sweater with Pattern - It might be form fitting, or have a pattern worked in.
9 - Lace - There are some repeats, but every row needs reading

10 - Fair Isle - There are no repeats. Tension is a bitch. My chart is my constant companion

Rating your projects is a good way to tell how long it will take to knit and what you can and cannot do while knitting it.

Who Pattern Rating Hours Can Do While Kit
Dad Basic Socks 0 12 Walk, Ride Stationary Bike, Read
Grandma P Basic Socks 0 12 Walk, Ride Stationary Bike, Read
Jim Basic Boot Socks 0 6 Walk, Ride Stationary Bike, Read
Jim Basic Boot Socks0 6 Walk, Ride Stationary Bike, Read
Aunt Lynn Lazy Daisy Shawlette 1 10 Walk, Ride Stationary Bike, Read
4 Beanies
1 16 Walk, Ride Stationary Bike, Read
Mom Linen Scarf 1 10 Walk, Ride Stationary Bike, Read
Mom Basic Four Needle Mittens 2.5 12 Walk, Ride Stationary Bike, Read
JM Basic Four Needle Mittens 2.5 12 Walk, Ride Stationary Bike, Read
Grandma Jane Dropped Stitch Scarf 3 10 Watch Movies, Ride Stationary Bike, Girl Time
Aunt Bobby Wound Up Cowl 3 4 Watch Movies, Ride Stationary Bike, Girl Time
12 Washcloths
3 12 Watch Movies, Ride Stationary Bike, Girl Time
Court Botanical Cowl 3 10 Watch Movies, Ride Stationary Bike, Girl Time
Aunt Lee Grandma's Checker Lace 6 10 Watch Movies, Ride Stationary Bike, Girl Time
Stina Hydrangea Neckwarmer 7 10 Watch Movies, Ride Stationary Bike, Girl Time
Grandma Jane Leaves of Grass 9 40 Grave Shift, Rewatch Movies, Books on Tape
Aunt Lee Girasole 9 40 Grave Shift, Rewatch Movies, Books on Tape
Anna Love at the Opera 9 20 Grave Shift, Rewatch Movies, Books on Tape

If my estimates are correct I have 252 hours of knitting. That averages to about 2.5 hours of knitting a day between now and Christmas.

I know I might not be able to do 2.5 hours of dedicated Christmas knitting between now and the big day, I do have my own sweater and my Dad's to finish right now, but if I plan things right I can chisel a few hours here and there without realizing it.

My trick is to always have a project ready for each activity I can do while knitting. I have a plain sock in a carrying bag that lives in my purse, a sweater in a box for grave shift, the washcloth yarn with pattern all in another carrying bag in the car for social visits, scarf next to my recumbent bike, and back up projects ready in a basket in my room. Every time I leave the house I take stock of what projects I have on me and if I can knit them during my day.

If I'm really smart then I can avoid the Christmas weight gain and spend most of my time at home on my bike since as of this weekend there will be no more running for a bit.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Christmas - Phase 4 - Organizing and Buying

If your like me then the stash is right now in shambles, but that's okay!

For this next step you will need the following:

1 gallon baggies
Any and every project bag you own, if you don't have any celebrate starting Christmas early by getting one in the shop
Permanent marker

What you are going to do now is print your list, print all the patterns, and pair yarn, pattern, needles and bags off. I know it might be tempting to start casting things on right now, but don't. You'll get side tracked and forget what you are doing.

Now take your list and start checking off what projects are all ready to go and put those in the project bags. For the rest of your list highlight what yarns, needles and books you might need. Now is also the time to budget how much you can spend on each remaining project.

Here are my before and after shots of sorting the projects:

Core Stash

A few unfinish projects and the Christmas yarn

If you don't have enough project bags for the gifts that are all ready to be started then put them into the gallon size baggies or some boxes and mark what they are. Don't put names just in case you have someone, children or husbands, that might snoop through the yarn. I know your thinking they never would do that, but there will come a time they need scissors, tape, or string and as soon as they see their name they will have it open and no Christmas surprise!

Also, the great thing about tossing the stash is that you might find yarn that you bought for someone already. Like I was planning on knitting Aunt Bobby a shawlette, but I found the handspun for a cowl that I'd put aside for her in January. You might also find a small ball of something and realize that it might be a perfect small gift for someone. Just be careful not to add too many projects to your list!

Now you need a notations pouch. Gather the following:

Stitch markers
Mini pen
Mini highlighter
Cable needle
Small stitch holder
Mini scissors
Measuring tape

If you don't have it all then make sure to write it on the list of people that has the highlights. This will be your OSK - oh shit kit. I call it OSK because whenever I seem to need any of these things you'll usually hear me say "oh shit, where is..." You'll also need a nice pouch that will fit all this. I highly suggest one with enough room for all this stuff, is made of a closely woven fabric (no worsted weight knitted pouches, sorry), and has a zipper top. Baggies will not do. You want it to be nice, easy to spot and not have holes in it that things can slip out of. Try FiberFaire to fill this need.

The OSK and your list now go into your purse where it will live till all projects are finished. Don't put the OSK in a project bag where it might be forgotten. It is as important as your wallet and keys. I can't stress it enough.

Your next task is to go shopping! Go get all the highlighted things on that list till you have everything you need!

If you're like me and can't just go out and spend a couple hundred dollars on yarn right now and need to spread the spending out then every time you go into a yarn store pull out the list! If you just have an itch to buy yarn then make sure it is something on the list. Great sale? Bring the list! Coupon for the hobby store with crappy yarn? Grab the list and get needles!

Also, now is the time to start casting on all the things! Go ahead! We'll talk about how to get through the projects next time!