Friday, January 20, 2023

Knitting socks...

I've been knitting socks!  Well, actually yesterday I finally started knitting socks. As in plural.  As in TAAT ( Two-At-A-Time for the uninitiated).  I only finally determined I needed to knit TAAT after several days of trying to knit the toe of just one sock.  I knew if I didn't knit two socks at the same time, I was in serious peril of never knitting the second one.

Let me back up a bit, though.  

Can I just say...   Sock knitters make knitting socks look so easy.  While I can see that sock knitting can become easy, it's quite the thing to bend one's mind around the first time.  At least it is for me.  Exasperated many times after frogging and starting over, I wasn't willing to give up too easily, though.  Once I'd knitted myself to mental exhaustion (sometimes physical exhaustion) I would just put it down, take a deep breath and say, "I'll try this again tomorrow".   Staying calm became my discipline every day.

Don't get me wrong.  Attempting sock knitting isn't the only thing I've done all week, but I have tried to pick up my yarn and needles each day and give it a go again.  On Monday (I think), then Tuesday, Wednesday...  It did get easier, and finally late on Wednesday night I had produced this:

The first successful toe of my (almost) first sock

Now, the toe itself I knitted on 40-inch circular needles and I'm happy to say I have the Magic Loop method down.  What a great invention!  I think I even have more or less mastered casting on for a seam free start to knitting socks toe-up, and knitting "Lynne Ashton's Seam-free rounded toe" (through the help of this video).

Being pretty happy with my first completed toe, I decided I wanted to start a second sock right away (so both socks would be knit with the same tension - and believe me, I had tension).    So... to free up the 40-in circulars, I transferred the completed toe to my 9-inch circulars (as pictured above).  Ack!  That was a mistake.    

Again, videos of people knitting on 9-inch circulars make it look so easy.  It was all I could do to knit two or three rounds before I knew I just couldn't possibly knit a whole sock with these tiny things.  I'm not giving up the idea that I might be able to manage these small needles sometime in the future, but I do not have the strength or stamina in my hands to do this right now.  Also, I think it has something to do with how I knit.  I knit continental style (flicking the working yarn over the working needle from the left hand).  Normally, I've knit pretty quickly this way, but after watching several videos I noticed that I hold my left index finger tall and very free from the needle, where others hold their index finger close to the needle and use it to flick yarn.  I flick the yarn onto the working needle with my second finger.  Which, when knitting with these little needles, puts quite the strain on the second finger.   On normal size needles, and thicker yarn this isn't an issue for me, but I was certainly having my issues on these. 

So now I had a problem.  I thought about knitting a new toe on the 40-inch circulars then try to transfer the first toe back onto the 40-in circulars to start knitting TAAT, but I could imagine several ways that could end in disaster, so finally I decided I should go to bed and consider the next day that my best option was probably to just start over.  


So I did.  

And after watching videos of socks knitted two-at-a-time, magic-loop-style, and after a couple of knitting sessions on Thursday I finally have accomplished this:

For non-knitters, that's two sock toes there.  So yes, I'm knitting socks!  Plural!

It feels like an accomplishment, but it's not without its woes.  I can now tell these are going to be too big for my feet.  The dilemma I face right now is to rip them out again and start over, or keep knitting these and hope that I can give them to someone who would like them (possibly hubs, though I'm not sure he'd be into wool socks, or one of my sons).  

And as if all that wasn't angst enough, if I keep knitting I'm going to have to decide on what heel to give these socks, and then actually knit them.  Of course, I knew from the beginning I'd have to knit a heel, but now it's become more and more real.  I'm curious if anyone has recommendations.  While I'd love to hear what your favorite heel is, I'm much more interested at the moment in opinions about what may be the easiest "first heels" to knit.  At the moment, I'm considering making a reinforced heel flap.  I'm trying to quietly hang on to confidence that I can do this with the help of online YouTube tutors, but I'm also trying not to think about it too much.  

And, of course, then after a lot more easy in-the-round knitting I'll have to learn how to do a stretchy bind-off at the top.  I'm open to suggestions for that too.  I want it to look neat, and not easily stretch out of shape.

So there you have it.  This is about the most interesting thing I've done all week.  No complaints.  Life is calm right now and I'm glad to have the winter to be a little slower, a little quieter, to think about all the things we'll do once the weather turns warm again.  I know these short cold days are going to change to wonderful warm long days soon enough.  As long as winter doesn't go on forever, and especially with the mild weather we're having in January (so far), I'm rather enjoying this quiet season.  

Thank you for stopping by!

Thursday, January 12, 2023

Organizing the closet - in two parts...

As I continue to wait for sock yarn to arrive, I've been busying myself with some organizing projects.  Nothing major.  Just as the spirit strikes, I clean out a cabinet or drawer and set it to rights - eliminating some things that have just become clutter. 

I've been lately inspired by this video:

Part 1

At the moment, I have the idea that I want to finally try minimizing the stuff in my part of the closet to just stuff I actually wear.  

I don't know who "they" are, but "they" say we tend to only wear 20 percent of what is actually in our closets.  I'm pretty sure that percentage is made up, but it's certainly true for me that most of what's in my closet doesn't seem to get worn.  At least not very often.  Why does this happen?   

A few things don't get worn because they don't fit quite right, but most things that never get worn more than a few times, I'm thinking I just don't like for one reason or another.  But then again, I bought them - so I must have liked them once upon a time. 

Why I find myself once again tired of pushing an unknown number of unworn clothes out of the way as I return to the closet the same 5 or 6 t-shirts, 3 or 4 sweaters, 3 yoga pants, and 2 or 3 pairs of jeans from the laundry over the course of a week, I really don't understand.  But I'm ready for a change.  

And given the number of YouTube videos that exist on this topic, I'm not alone in feeling this way.

There are different challenges out there for tackling this problem of having more clothes than one evidently wears.  

One idea is to pull everything out of the closet, and after a week or so the only things that go back into the closet are the things that were worn. 

And there's the trick of putting things in the closet on a hanger hung backwards on the rod, turning the hanger around only after wearing and returning an item.  After a set amount of time, it becomes clear what never gets worn.  

These are clever ideas, but I think I can skip this step.  My closet is fairly organized so I already know what I not wearing.  I see the same unworn things in their same spots every day.

So it feels like the question for me is what do I want to keep, along with how much do I need or want to keep? 

In an attempt to answer this question, some people whittle their closet down to just 30 items (some people include shoes in this number) for an experiment like this.  That seems unnecessarily spartan to me, so I am going to be realistic...  Assuming I actually have a week's worth of different outfits that actually fit me, and I like enough to wear in public,  I think whittling it down to just whatever clothes make up those outfits would be completely workable.  It's all I'm wearing at the moment anyway!  

The strategy in the video above is to only take out of the closet what I like, what fits, what I can wear comfortably.   Easy enough.

Once those things are out, I'll take a hard look at everything else and make some hard decisions.  I will have two choices - 1) to donate or 2) to put items I'm not sure of in a "time will tell" box.  

Okay.   Here I go...

Part 2:

So...  the above was written on Sunday, I believe.  I'm happy to say I accomplished the job over the course of two days.  It really wasn't that hard, but life interrupted and I needed to break the whole thing down into a couple of sessions.

No before and after photos.  You're just going to have to believe me when I say the closet hasn't looked this good since we moved in about 14 months ago.  I even managed to clear out (and put away) stuff inside two boxes full of odds and ends.  Odds and ends that didn't even belong in the bedroom, let alone in the closet.  There were also some some extra blankets and throw pillows that were being stored on the floor under the clothing.  Ugh.  That said, I did follow the steps in the video, and I was so excited by the improvement, I decided to put brighter lightbulbs in the closet. I don't mind seeing everything now!

I got rid of some things, but I also stored some items in a few "time will tell" boxes (the video explains this).  What I decided I wanted to keep in the closet got sorted by season better than it had been.  Some things (some tops in particular) that weren't getting worn, I realized just don't go with long pants I wear in the winter, so of course I wasn't wearing them.  They got hung up in another section of the closet with the summer capris I wear them with, and I'm not bothered by them at all now.  

For what it's worth, we don't have a huge closet.  It's a walk-in closet, but by today's standards it probably looks a tad small for two people to share.  But even at that, I probably have a couple of weeks worth of outfits, mixing and matching pieces, and just looking at it I can say that is plenty of clothes for me.  And I can still store some out-of-season clothes in there.  Granted, those out-of-season things are kind of crammed together, but that's okay.  I don't have to be able to see or easily access them for a few months.  I imagine I'll have another reckoning come spring, though. 

My reason for talking about the size of our closet and the amount of clothes I think I can be truly happy with, is that even though it's not an impressively large closet, it's clearly large enough to hold everything I need to wear - if everything in there is something I actually do wear.  

That's the goal. To only own clothing I actually wear. It really is a pretty simple concept, isn't it?  It may take a few rounds/seasons of this kind of sorting and purging, but I have hopes to someday actually have a wardrobe that fits in my closet.   With some room to spare, ideally...

Tuesday, January 3, 2023

Happy New Year...

So...  are you a resolution maker?  I used to make resolutions, but I really don't anymore.  I do sometimes feel inspired with the start of a new year to challenge myself with some new things, though.  I think I'm also feeling motivated because my hand has significantly improved in recent weeks.  I'm really happy to report that the nerve pain I was having when I wrote the post before last is basically gone.  There's still some discomfort, still a little swelling from time to time, and a bit of stiffness, but with that nerve pain gone I feel so much more hopeful that my hand will continue to feel better over the upcoming months.

Ready to challenge myself and my hand, I easily came up with a some things I'm planning on stretching myself to do as this new year takes off.  These are just a few ideas I have in mind to do:

1)  Learn to knit socks.  I don't know why it's taken me so long to even consider the possibility that I could do this.   I've told myself for years that it looks too hard, but recently I came across some tutorials and I'm now thinking I'm up for giving it a try.  So I ordered the appropriate sized needles and yarn.

I've never handled such tiny knitting needles before.  These are size 1 (with a diameter of 2.25 mm).   If I am correct, there are five sizes smaller than these!  I can't quite imagine what kind of fairy fingers it takes to handle them.  I'm just waiting for sock yarn to arrive so I can give these a go.

I bought a 47" long circular knitting needle, hoping I'll find magic loop knitting easy to do, and will want to knit two socks at a time - because I'm so afraid of "second sock syndrome".  And I ordered the 9" needle thinking I might prefer zipping through the hundreds and hundreds of stockinette stitches - enjoying all that mindless in-the-round knitting - which could also diminish the likelihood of not finishing the second sock.   I like having options.

I'll be sure to report back on how sock knitting goes.

2)  I plan to try getting back to cross stitching.  In addition to smaller projects I'd like to stitch, I'm wondering to myself if I could manage to finish this sampler project I started in 2020:

Part of it is rolled up on this scroll frame.  
I'm probably close to half finished with the whole thing.

3)  Inspired by YouTuber, Ardent MichelleI am interesting in cooking with some things that I'm not all that familiar with, some simple things, actually.  I'm also fascinated with her low-spend challenges.  This makes me consider that I can cook extremely inexpensively if I just challenge myself to cook from the pantry (and fridge and freezer) in the upcoming month or two - shopping mostly for fresh produce and other perishable things.

Check out Michelle:

4)  And I really enjoyed last year making note of the "new things" that happened in my world.  At some point, though, my "new things" started being mostly hard and unpleasant things and it wasn't nearly as enjoyable to count them, but I'd like to get back to noticing new things.  Especially good new things.  I loved how the effect of counting "new things" created a spirit of appreciation in me.  That alone is reason to start back up my personal "One New Thing" challenge.  The challenge (in and of itself) isn't to do new things, or make new things, or experience new things - necessarily.  The challenge is to notice these things when they happen.  Whether I make them happen or they simply present themselves to me doesn't seem terribly important (not at the outset, anyway).  It's noticing new things and pointing them out to myself that changes me.   Hopefully some new things will find their way into posts here.

That's enough to start with.  That I care to share here, anyway.  

What inspires you as you begin a new year?  Do you have any new things on the  horizon?