Finish It or Frog It 2012: DONE!

Way back at the beginning of the year, I took a good hard look at all the projects I had on needles. I searched my heart, and knew it to be true: some of them I still wanted to make and/or own … others needed to be abandoned.  The good thing about knitting is that the yarn can be re-claimed.  I pulled out needles, then frogged and wound like a mad, mad knitter.

The ones that “made it” looked like this:

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I am pleased to announce that I have finished ALL these projects — with the minor exception of the Ongoing Forever Sock Yarn Blanket, which is (as should be obvious) an “ongoing” project, with no clear end date in mind.  I think frogging the “unloved” projects was a great exercise in letting go of things … it’s made me better at deciding to give up on projects that just weren’t working this year — when my tendency is to plow ahead no matter what.  I gave up on “just” four projects this year … but that’s tons better than having a bunch of WIPs slowly aging into UFOs.

Deciding to finish the above projects also motivated me.  The shawl especially was a bit of a slog … lace knitting with beads, and nupps, on tiny needles with slippery, dark-colored yarn!  I kept telling myself that all I had to do was finish that shawl, and I’d be done with my “Finish It or Frog It” projects.  I cast off my shawl on October 3rd (look for a FO post this Friday), and I couldn’t be happier with it.

Here’s a quick photo gallery of the FOs….

Very Orange Hoodie

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Princess Wander’s Aran Cape

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Yggdrasil in Blue

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Hellebores Wristlets

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Little Brown Aeolian Shawl

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Sheep Head Hat

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Shoreward Socks

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Tappan Zee Pulled Taffy

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Finish It or Frog It 2012 (or, What’s NOT On My Needles)

It’s come to my attention that I have a number of projects that are nearing hibernation … not to mention a couple of projects in deep hibernation.  I find that these projects are neglected for any number of reasons.  What they have in common is this: although they are not taking up any actual knitting time, they are taking up mental knitting time. Every time I look at my projects page in Ravelry, I see these partially-finished projects and meditate on the whys and wherefores of what it would take to turn UFOs into FOs.  Every time I pick a few project bags to go to Knit Night or to a friend’s house for knitting, my fingers linger over certain bags … I don’t really want to bring them, but they use up mental cycles.  This, dear reader, is a problem that I can fix.

I hearby declare January to be “Finish It or Frog It” month.  It’s time to take stock. Bring out all your projects, whether on needles or waste yarn or whatever, and decide whether you are going to finish it, or not.  You can use whatever criteria floats your boat.  For myself, I decided that I should at the very least WANT the finished object, or ENJOY the process — ideally, both. If neither of these things were true, it was time to frog it.

Here are all my projects* as of this morning, regardless of hibernation status:

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I had already declared my Carmen Banana Sock Monkey “done” earlier this week, so she isn’t pictured.  (Carmen herself is complete, but I never made the last few clothing items — and I’ve decided I’m probably not going to.) I dug up my two deep hibernation projects for this too: a mostly-complete jacket (for the me of size six-years-ago) and a mitered-square leftover-sock-yarn blanket.  I considered each project in turn, carefully weighing my two major criteria.

Top to bottom, left to right, here are the final decisions:

  • Very Orange Hoodie: kind of boring to work on, but my son really wants it, so it’s in!
  • Northern Lights Jacket: doesn’t fit me now (if it ever did), has poor quality colorwork (one of my first efforts), and I’m dreading the duplicate stitch — it’s OUT even though it hurts (a lot) to frog a complete body, a complete sleeve, and one half-done sleeve
  • Princess Wander’s Aran Cape: this is my “at work” project for the yarn shop; cool pattern, and I’m looking forward to having the cape someday — IN!
  • Ongoing Forever Sock Yarn Blanket: I’m giving this blanket a second chance — I do really want the FO, and I think the work will be less painful now that I can knit left to right as well as right to left — IN!
  • Yggdrasil in Blue: I’ve already designated this one my target project for the Neglected Project KAL I started in the 52 in 52 group. I’ve already made great progress — finished the 2nd side and turned the 2nd corner — so it is IN.  (I really want the blanket, but the back-and-forth edging was killing me.  Left-to-right knitting saves this project!)
  • Hellesbores Wristlets: I’m not enjoying the knitting, but I really, really want the FO — IN!
  • Little Brown Aeolian Shawl: I keep getting bogged down on this project, but I love working with KP Alpaca Cloud, and I love the FO, so it’s IN!
  • Sheep Head Hat: I’m a bit intimidated by altering the chart from 9 colors to the 6 I have, but I must have a sheep head hat, so it’s IN!
  • Finally Summit: This is the project that gave me left-to-right knitting, for which I am grateful.  But far too many people have noticed that the stripey orange yarn looks suspiciously like corn snakes… and frankly the fussy knitting is losing it’s charm.  I feel like this yarn could be pretty instead of freaky, so off to the frog pond — it’s OUT.
  • Sept 2011 Sock Club Socks: I’m nearly done, it’s a fun pattern, just have to get past the heel turn on sock #2 and I’m golden — IN! (I’m also highly motivated by wanting to start (and finish??) my Nov 2011 shipment before the first 2012 shipment comes in just a few weeks — yikes!)
  • Damask Potion: Although I want to want this one … I don’t, really.  The yarn and pattern just aren’t coming together.  Both will probably do better with another partner … as much as it pains me, OUT!
  • Kensington Fingerless Mitts:  Likewise, the mitts.  Wish I could love you as much as I want to! Alas, you do not quite fit, and increasingly I can’t really imagine wearing gloves past my elbows. I want that pretty green yarn for something else anyway.
  • Tappen Zee Pulled Taffy: I really want this little cardi! I’m almost done — just a few dozen rows of stockinette, plus the bottom edging.  If I finish Yggdrasil fast enough, I’ll do this one for the Neglected Project KAL as well. IN!

Here is the IN crowd:

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And the OUT crowd:

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After several hours’ work, here is all my “new” yarn (including yarn I had not yet started using on the jacket):

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* All of my projects for myself — I decided not to include my two current design projects in this process, since I am working on those for other people.

Join The 2011 AMS KAL! (All The Cool Kids Are Doing It)

Two years ago, I was relatively new to lace knitting.  In fact I had only one large lace-weight project to my name: my Cobweb Lace Stole.  Finishing that project took almost an entire year (including large spells of languishing unattended, of course).  The result was well worth it.  I love the finished product and wear it all the time.  It could use a good wash & block, but it has held up well otherwise.

5410 finished cobweb lace stole

Right around the time I was finishing the stole, I heard about a free lace knit-a-long offered by Goddess Knits (aka Renne Leverington).  The thought of finishing a shawl all by myself was terrifying, but a knit-a-long seemed much more do-able.  Weekly “clues” with just a little knitting in each, with a whole group of people working the same pattern at the same time–perfect!  I signed up for the 2009 Anniversary Mystery Shawl Knit-a-long (AMS KAL) and completed my first lace shawl: Ultramarine (pattern: Victorian Romance).

8622 shawl

The final clues took me a lot longer than a week, but I was still done by mid-July. I found out after the fact that I blocked the edge “wrong” (smooth instead of points), but I still loved it.  The Faroese shape makes it easy to wear, both draped and tied.

The 2010 AMS KAL was a pi shawl, with four pattern choices at each tier.  I took a risk and used a tonal colorway: Queen Anne (pattern: Mandala II). I think the results are stunning.

Clues 1 & 2 (choices A and D):
0027 AMS KAL (Clue 1 done)0066 AMS KAL Clue 2 done (A, D)

Clues 3 & 4 (choices D and D):
0084 AMS KAL (Clue 3 done, ADD)0139 clue 4D and edging

I finished the whole thing by the 1st of June — my fastest lace knit to date:

0174 completed Mandala II

All this brings us up to the present day, where a growing group of knitters are eagerly waiting for the first clue in the 2011 AMS KAL.  The start date is May 7th, but people are already swatching and chatting on the Yahoo Group.  It’s FREE! to join, but you absolutely must join before the start date in order to participate.  I believe Renee has about half a dozen of her own hand-dyed yarn still available, but you are not required to use her yarn of course.  The pattern will be a half-hexagon, and uses about 1300 yards of lace-weight yarn worked on #4 or #5 needles.

Here’s my yarn!  Jaggerspun Zephyr in Blueberry … my first time knitting from a cone.

1952 Blueberry Jaggerspun Zephyr

I was wondering if I should re-wind it, but a friend encouraged me to try knitting from the cone directly. The yarn feels HARD and inelastic on the cone, but the swatch came out beautifully, so I think I can safely skip the re-wind.

2112 swatch for AMS 2011

So, you know you want to join in the fun, right?  There are new lace knitters (like me in 2009) and experienced ones too (ahem, me in 2011).  If you have never done a KAL before, you are in for a treat–it is so much fun to have a group to knit with.  This year I’m blessed with a physical group in addition to the virtual one–so far three knitters in my twice-weekly knitting group have decided to give it a try!

What’s On My Needles: Knitters Brewing Co. Mystery Socks III

A few weeks ago, I heard about a free mystery sock knit-a-long being hosted by the Knitters Brewing Company. This was just the kick in the pants I needed to get my Firecracker socks finished and off the needles. It was hard to wait for the KAL to start! Although I was tempted (as I always am) to buy their kit for the KAL, I controlled my desire to own every ball of sock yarn in the world, and instead selected a pretty little colorway from my stash:  Knit Picks Stroll Tonal in “Queen Anne.”

0701 KP Stroll in Queen Anne Tonal

I made a shawl out of Shadow Tonal in  “Queen Anne,” so I knew I loved the color already.  (Actually, that was a mystery KAL project too!  Interesting….)

0175 completed Mandala II (edge)

Anyway, back to the mystery socks.  Clue #1 came out right on time, and everyone dove in.  The socks are toe-up, so I used Judy’s magic cast-on and magic-looped through the nifty twisted-stitch toe pattern with stately aplomb.  I finished one toe, and decided that I really needed to do two-at-a-time with this pattern.  Usually I hate having two socks on my ML at a time, because the “extra” sock drags at my needles.  That’s because socks are often my “take-a-long” project, and I sometimes knit standing up or even walking!  But, since these socks will be worked on in quick weekly bursts, it seemed like that wouldn’t be a problem. Also, I really wanted to have them DONE and wearable when the last clue came — and not have a whole second sock staring me in the face.  So, a rare bird in my knitting life: two at a time socks:

1347 queen anne mystery socks (clue 1)

Impatiently I waited for the next clue …. and waited … and waited … until Clue #2 was released a whole day early! Yippee!  I got right to work.  A few rows in, I decided I just couldn’t handle the written instructions.  I’m more of a “chart girl” you see — I like to see where I am in the pattern, and written instructions just can’t do that.  So, I stopped and made my own chart. After that I flew along at warp speed.  The twisty stitches are fun and pretty too, and even though my yarn choice is colorful, the tonal nature allows the stitch pattern to shine through:

1364 mystery sock (clue 2)

Now I’m waiting again — browsing the KBC forum, which has multiple threads devoted to this KAL. I always love the community aspects of participating in a knit-a-long, and this time is no exception.

Speaking of which … it’s not too late to join in!  Grab some sock yarn, print out the first two clues, and catch up before Friday’s Clue#3 (or maybe Wednesday? Pppppplllllease?).