Sunday, December 28, 2008

New Uses for Old Tea Tins

I drink a lot of tea. So much so that I might be considered, well, a tea snob. Some people drink wine, others coffee, but I am ever in search of that perfect cup of tea. While on this quest, I've collected a number of teacups, teapots, and tea tins along the way. It's pretty obvious what to do with the first two items, but what do you do with those extra tea tins once you've drunk all that tea?

So, I'm taking a little break from the knitting today to share with you some creative uses for extra tins or decorative boxes you happen to have around.

Pens & Pencils

A reasonably sized tea controls the usual chaos that surrounds these writing utensils. Plus, I get to look at that pretty Chinese mountain scene when I am having a bad day at work!

Paperclips, Rubberbands, & Pushpins

I like to use my short and squat tins for my other office supplies. This enables me to easily find the item I am looking for without having to dig through a pile of pushpins. Eek! And this tin has apparently become the haven for loose change, which is another great use for a spare tin.

Scissors, Knitting Needles, & Other Craft Supplies

This tall Octavia tin lives on my craft desk, providing a place where I can always find my scissors on short notice. I also keep my sparkly craft pens, my favorite flower pen, and a few other items in here. And if I didn't have a few knitting needle cases already, I'm sure that my needles would find a home in one of these old tins.

Tea 'Service'

This is my favorite use for an old tea tin, as it houses all of the notions I need to make my morning pot of tea. From the tea towel I use to wipe off my just-rinsed pot, to the three minute timer, to my favorite notion of all--a tea spoon that helps measure '1 cup of perfect tea'--I use this almost every day.

Or More Tea!
When in doubt, I fill those old tins with more tea, because I always seem to have plenty extra around!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Holiday Knitting

Did you know that the car is the ideal place to wind skeins into balls of yarn? I discovered this truth on the nine hour car ride to my parent's house yesterday, when it was DH's turn at the wheel. Sitting on the passenger's side, I simply draped the skein around my knees and wound a few balls. Now I am all ready to enjoy a very knit-filled holiday vacation.

I've got big plans for a scarf for DH and a pair of socks for me, but I also hope to do something with the yarn pictured above, which I won at the Ravelry get-together after Wisconsin Sheep and Wool. It is 560 yards of worsted weight yarn from the local dyer Happy Hands. I was thinking about making knee-high socks with it, as that would be obnoxious enough to offset the vibrant colors, but am unsure what to do for a pattern. Each of the 8 color sections is 2 inches long and they repeat in a set order, so my biggest challenge will be pooling. Maybe a slip-stitch pattern? If you have any suggestions, I would love to hear them!

In the meantime, I hope you all have a wonderful holiday season and get lots of knitting done!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Andy's Sweater: The Full Story

Words are failing me today. How do I express the time, emotion, and work that I have put into this sweater? I've dropped hints and clues in some of my previous posts, but perhaps it's time to tell the whole story.

From almost the moment that Andy discovered I could knit, he's been harassing me for a sweater. The first time he asked as a friend, and as a friend I answered a resounding 'No'. However, I did knit him a scarf, which eventually prompted him to ask me out on a date. We then dated for several years, and, as much as I explained the boyfriend-sweater curse to him, I still had several more requests for a sweater. Finally, in the fall of last year, we got married. As a wedding gift, I gave him a box of yarn with the promise of finally making him a sweater.

After returning from our Italian honeymoon, I set to work planning the sweater. I was going to knit Elizabeth Zimmerman's Classic Brooks Sweater and I was going to knit it in under a month as part of NaKniSweMo. In this I was somewhat successful; I finished the sweater while on Thanksgiving vacation with Andy's family, but as soon as he tried on the sweater, I knew it was all wrong. The body was too tight, the arms too large, and the saddle shoulder style did not flatter him at all. In my heart, I knew that the only way to fix it (and for me to be happy) was to rip it all out and start again with a different pattern and better measurements.

So the sweater sat abandoned for several months until I was emotionally stable enough to rip the entire thing out and start anew. This time, I was going to knit the top-down Classic Raglan Pullover by Barbara Walker. The top-down method makes it much easier for on-the-fly adjustments to ensure proper fit--meaning I only had to rip out half of a sleeve when I discovered that the arms were too large, instead of frogging two whole sleeves. This sweater took a little longer and a little more yarn to complete than the previous, and aside from the slightly darker color of the right-front forearm (the extra yarn was a different dyelot), I was pretty happy with it. I blocked it just in time to give to Andy as a first anniversary present. But the sweater had other plans.

Despite a second blocking attempt, the sweater was obviously too long. When Andy stated, "It's fine. It will be a great around-the-house sweater," I knew that I would not be happy until it fit properly and he didn't feel embarrassed to wear it out in public. At this point, I was really glad that I chose a top-down design, as it is so easy to modify the length. I simply ripped out 5 inches from the hem and reknit 2. And with the extra yarn, I reknit the right sleeve to match the rest of the sweater. Then I blocked the sweater a third time and crossed my fingers.

So, finally, over a year after starting this sweater and having knit countless more stitches than are actually represented in the final product, I am proud to present Andy's sweater:

Disclaimer: Knitting a sweater for your SO can be hazardous to your health. Please do not undertake the above without consulting with your SO about the strength of your relationship. Luckily, I love this man and he appreciates my determination to knit a sweater that both fits and flatters him.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Book List

This week has been totally unproductive in the knitting department. Maybe it was that frustrating project at work or putting together Christmas gifts, but all I managed to do was finish casting off on DH's sweater. You know, the sweater I have knit twice in full, and it still isn't right. Yeah, that one. I worked on it over Thanksgiving and hopefully I will have an actual finished sweater to post about next week. That is, if the books don't eat me first.

So perhaps this is the real reason I didn't do any knitting in the last seven days. Somehow my modest to-read pile ballooned to 15 books this week. While a significant number of books in the pile are on tea, you may espy Color Style, Knitter's Almanac, New Pathways for Sock Knitters, The Gentle Art of Domesticity, and a non-knitting book by Barbara Walker hidden in the stack. Even when I'm not physically knitting, I guess I don't get that far away.

(And if I had to pick only one of these knitting books, it would be the sock pathways book. Cat Bordhi is a genius!)