HPKCHC: January Wrap-up

Saturday, January 31, 2009


January has been a flurry of knit-related activity, most of it for the Harry Potter Knit and Crochet House Cup.

I finished the Charms assignment and the Quidditch designs early, which was good, because I was going nuts trying to finish everything else by the deadline (midnight tonight). First up, Herbology.

The assignment, if you recall, was to clean up the greenhouse (that is, organize the stash). I can sum it up in two pictures.


stash hunt

...and after.

Closet, bins, and shelves

My needles are organized and entered into Ravelry. I wore out several sets of batteries taking pictures of yarn and projects to update my Rav notebook. Stash is entered. Projects are up-to-date. And I have a 12-month plan for my knitting.

I feel so... organized.

Next up: Defense Against the Dark Arts.

FO: Mug Cozy

Eh. It's a mug cozy. I'm not a big fan of the design, but it was quick, I could knit it from stash, and it will keep my caffeinated beverages warm.

The project I'm most pleased about is this:

FO: Opposing Forces cap

The Opposing Forces cap for Arithmancy. It's based on my character numbers (9, 2, and 7) and knit from some Manos Silk Blend.

OMFSM, I am in love with this yarn. It's soft. It's warm. Even when it pools, it pools in cool swishes that bring to mind comet trails and stardust. This hat may never come off my head.

In theory, according to my 12-month plan, I was supposed to finish up the Snowblowing Scarf tonight (which is just a really wide, thick version of the Noro Scarf in Taos), but I'm tired and I'm hungry and I don't want to knit when I'm in that kind of mood. Instead, I think I'm going to mess up the grand 12-month plan on the very first month and just put it off for a few days. Besides, the new assignments should be up tomorrow, and I want to be in good shape to decide which classes to take.

Herbology: Ollivander's Wands and Hand-held Labelling Machines

Monday, January 26, 2009

This Herbology Update is brought to you by our sponsors: Ziploc bags, Dymo labels, and Oxford notecards, the Holy Trinity of cheap organizational tools.

After the last update, this project languished for a bit as I realized the enormity of the task ahead of me. Finally, my fellow Ravenclaws provided me with the three things I needed most: gentle encouragement, sage advice, and a swift kick in the butt.

The most helpful counsel came from GazeboGal, who pointed out that I did not actually need to finish frogging everything in my frog pond in order to complete the assignment. This was the part I was stuck on, and the realization that I could shove it all in a basket, stick it on the top shelf, and deal with it later freed me up to worry about more important things: like whether I was going to run out of Dymo labels.

I was.

A Dymo labeller is like a Muggle's special organizational magic wand. I swear to you, if you print out a label, the stuff in the closet organizes itself. I set to work this month and used up an entire label cartridge.

I labelled my circs...

Stash: Circs and flex needles

...and I labelled my Options.

Stash: KP Options

I labelled my yarn...

Stash: Wool and Cotton

...and by then I had discovered the secret of the well-organized greenhouse. It really doesn't matter how messy things are; if you shove them in a bag and label it, it's organized. It's kind of like how if you just make your bed, your mom thinks you cleaned your whole room. It's a spooky kind of magic. I am convinced that Ziploc bags and Dymo labels are the secret of Molly Weasley's success.

The small WIPs got bagged, too:

Stash: WIPs in a box

These required a little more detailed label than I was willing to print on a Dymo labeller- after all, those cartridges ain't free. Instead, I went for a lower-tech solution:

Stash: WIP in a bag

3x5 notecards, recording the project name, design sources, yarns, needle size, and any other pertinent information that I am likely to forget if I put the project down for a few months. (Almost every project gets put down for a few months, so this seemed prudent.) Every project has one now, and I think I have drastically reduced my chances of getting to the second sock and forgetting where I found that strange and beautiful toe construction. (Answer: Bosnian Garter Stitch square toe, Lucy Neatby, Cool Socks, Warm Feet. It's awesome; check it out.)

Had I quit here, it would have been an amazing improvement. But I'm a Ravenclaw and therefore stubborn with a perfectionistic streak, and I was determined that I would not quit. My total lack of sewing knowledge or an unbent needle in my sewing machine did not stop me from whipping up these:

Stash: straights (10")

Needle rolls, rudimentary but effective, thrown together from sheets of felt and scrap ribbon. The stitching wouldn't pass muster with a four-year-old, but once they're rolled up, you really can't see the stitches (which is good, because they bring to mind the words "drunken monkey", and not in a positive context). I'm planning to work up two more rolls, one for DPNs and one for crochet hooks, and then plunk all of them into a vase to look somewhat decorative.

Less crafty but somewhat neater is this:

Stash: Straights (14")

14" straights in an organizer. My goal is to clean out the extra needles, pair up needles where I'm missing some, and turn this into a full set of 14" aluminum needles. Just in case I need to travel somewhere where space is limited and I don't know what projects I'll have with me. What kind of emergency this would be I don't know, but it can't hurt to be prepared, right?

Even my knitting bookcase has gotten in on the organizing action:

Stash: Books and patterns

Design notebooks and knit lit on top, pattern and instructional books on the bottom. Simply lovely.

With less than a week to go until this assignment is due, I've made excellent progress, I think:

Stash: Looking better

...and now it's time to start updating my Ravelry notebook with stash counts and photos, updated WIP pictures, and needle info. This assignment has been hard work, but I think I'll be very pleased with the results when the month is over- and ready to tackle a Venomous Tentacula, just for a change of pace...


Saturday, January 24, 2009

It's been a hell of a week, and I'm wiped out. Deaths, illnesses, and two car accidents (neither of them mine, and one involving a hearse (!)) have spread the suckitude fairly evenly across seven long days. There are only five more hours left in this week, but I'm still waiting for the other shoe- or shoes- to drop. A house fire would round out the week perfectly.

The universe doesn't really work like that, though. Does it?

I think I've coped with this week fairly well. I've cooked and eaten real food. I've planned meals and shopped using actual grocery lists. I have made and consumed vast quantities of tea. I've gotten out of the house, worked full days, and interacted with other people. And today, I even made a dent in the swamp of yarny chaos unleashed by my Herbology homework.

So why do I feel like something else rotten must surely be coming my way? A moth infestation? An accidental felting? A fatal stabbing with a sock needle? An early death brought on by the anxiety of trying to outguess fate?

Herbology: Live from Filch's office

Monday, January 5, 2009

Today I rounded up all the yarn, needles, patterns, labels, and projects in various states of completion and chucked them into yarn jail. I dumped things out of bins and bags and threw them all into detention together, where I've half a mind to make them knit themselves as punishment. I sorted them into large categories.

Herbology: Pre-nap

Looks pretty under control, doesn't it?

Pfft. That's the picture I took before I cleared the bed, took a break, took a nap, started my DADA homework, and put away more laundry so that I could have more storage. This is what it looks like now:

Herbology: Post-nap

As far as I can tell without shifting too many piles, this is all the knitting stuff. (Still haven't found the rogue ball of alpaca, so watch your back in the corridors.) With everything now safely imprisoned, I am left with this:

Herbology: A vacuum waiting to be filled...

It looks so nice and neat and clean and full of potential, doesn't it? And I didn't even take a picture of the clear plastic drawers and non-Ziploc Ziploc bags I have to organize it all.


Now what?

I'm not at all sure how to go about organizing this stuff. I'm going to have to work up a plan before I even begin to tackle it, because there's too much that needs to be done. And preferably get it all done before I absolutely have to crawl into bed again. Is there some kind of spell that will sort and update my stash for me? Stashinem Ravelo?

Charms: It makes me smile

My Charms assignment went more quickly than I thought; taking out the laundry and dishes and midnight snacks in between, it was probably two, or at most three, hours from casting on to taking coy half-self-portraits.

The January Charms assignment:

This month you will be learning The Patronus Charm.

Expecto Patronum

Knitting or crocheting as a cure for seasonal depression. Self explanatory. Pretty much knit anything that will make YOU happy. May not be a gift for someone else. No matter how much you NEED to get a beret made by the 9th for your best friends birthday.

And the finished assignment:
My Patronus is Pale Purple

And it worked; I am feeling relaxed and happy after knitting this in a way I haven't felt in quite a while, and here are seven reasons why:

  1. The yarn. It's Manos Silk Blend. It feels like clouds and baby skin on my head.
  2. It was instant gratification knitting. I don't do a lot of instant gratification knitting. But this? This is like record time for a project. I have knit dishcloths that took longer than this. Accomplishing goals improves my mood.
  3. I have a deep and abiding love for purple. If I could produce a corporeal Patronus, it might just turn out to be a hyperintelligent shade of lavender. I saw this yarn and had. to. have. it. I identify with purple, and have since I was writing intensely serious poems on the back of my science papers in middle school. This is my color.
  4. I have more of this yarn left over. I could make another one if I wanted. I could make matching wristlets or something. I could keep the leftovers as a pet. Point is, the fun's not over yet.
  5. It's reversible- it looks just as cute with the purl side out. Maybe cuter.
  6. Successful pattern adaptation. This thing is a Calorimetry, except it's nothing like a Calorimetry. Nicer rib. More delicate yarn. Less winter necessity, more hair accessory. And dudes...
    Check out those ties!
    It has ties. Oh yeah. I kicked this pattern's butt.
  7. I lied. There is no seven. This makes me happy too, somehow.

One assignment down. If I can knock out the DADA assignment (a tiny little mug cozy) tomorrow, that leaves me the rest of the month for Herbology and Quidditch. It might even leave me time to try my hand at some of the other courses...

Soar on, Ravenclaw!

(Oh, that polka-dot blanket that the teddy bear is lying on? That's what you got me for Christmas, Nana.)

Herbology: The Great Stash Hunt

Sunday, January 4, 2009

The first Herbology assignment is straightening up the greenhouse, documenting the process with before and after photos. Most students were able to sum it up in one or two pictures.

Me, I had to go on a Stash Hunt.

If I were a Slytherin and had a somewhat more casual relationship with the truth, I would just post these two pictures, which is where all the stash is *supposed* to live:

stash hunt

stash hunt

This is messy enough to get me booted out of Ravenclaw, I'm sure. But see those big empty places on the shelf? Places where you could fit a whole lot of yarn? Think of them less as being empty and more... mobile.

Some of it had only got a few feet outside the closet, probably just for some fresh air.
stash hunt

Some of it travelled with me for Christmas and was therefore above suspicion.
stash hunt

Some of it was near enough to make its protests that it got lost among the empty soda bottles plausible.
stash hunt

But some of it? Some of my stash clearly has plans of its own. I found some of it looking for dark corners under furniture from which to breed, plot world domination, or both.
stash hunt

stash hunt
(That's a box of vintage sock yarn and a case that should be full of stitch markers and pins. I think the Wintuk has evil designs.)

Worse, this book was getting ready to extend my stash's dominion back to North Dakota:
stash hunt

And some of the stash I simply haven't unearthed yet.

Hogwarts Castle, beware. There's something dangerous and unnatural roaming the corridors, preparing to turn us all into its slaves (or its dinner). And I rather think it's a rogue ball of alpaca.


Friday, January 2, 2009

Every year I agonize over whether I should make a New Year's Resolution. I know they're not effective for me; I know that as soon as I miss a day, I'm done for the year. But it seems like such a nice thing, to set a big goal at the beginning of a new year. I like challenges. (I just don't always like following through on them.)

I'm not feeling guilty about it this year: I'm not bothering with any resolutions. There's too much to do already, and it would feel stupid and self-centered for me to try to toss some vanity weight or spend my energies on something that just doesn't matter. Besides, diet food is expensive and doesn't taste good.

I am, however, capable of committing to impossible goals if the goal itself is completely inconsequential and also involves yarn. I know this because I signed myself up for the Harry Potter Knit and Crochet House Cup, and I'm totally psyched.

The HPKCHC is a Ravelry-only affair (so stop slacking and make it your New Year's Resolution to get on Ravelry! The wait list is only a few days now) in which you get points for homework assignments in various Hogwartian classes. (That word? I hate that word. It showed up in the most tense moments of HP7 and I spent a full minute stumbling over that word. "Hogwartians?" Seriously? I wonder how long poor JK agonized over that word choice before she decided nothing else would work.)

Anyway, as I say, you attempt various homework assignments, earning points for your house. It's totally awesome. And if you didn't sign up yet... you're too late. Sorry. Next term. For now you get to wait while we have all the fun without you, haha.

I'll put a box up in the sidebar with my HPKCHC progress soon, and I may even get back to actual knitblogging. But I won't promise anything, because that would be too much like a New Year's Resolution- and that would pretty well guarantee that this blog would be dead for good in about a week.