It is done! Monday, Dec 22 2008 

Finally, this past weekend, I breathed a big sigh of relief and shipped off the rest of my packages. (Which, for the record? 3 packages, with a total weight of 16 lbs, cost less to ship through USPS than 1 6 lb package via UPS. Bet they’ll arrive on the same day, too.)

Christmas Knitting 2008

That is (almost) all of the Christmas knitting. The thermos cozy wasn’t finished in time for this photo, and I forget to take a picture before I sent it off. Oops.

I have to say, it is a huge relief to finally have all of this done! Of course, I immediately started working on some things for me…but more on that later! It’s just nice to be free of deadlines.

Tarot Card of the Day: The Empress

NEVER ship UPS! Wednesday, Dec 17 2008 

Today, I learned a valuable lesson. I will never ship anything via UPS again. I’m sharing my tale of woe here, because I don’t want others to get screwed the way I did.

Like many of you, I spend a lot of time at a computer, so I rely on websites to get accurate information. I’m not always able to call places, and I don’t have time to trek to stores unless I know that’s where I need to go. This is a concept that UPS has apparently failed to grasp, because as I found out today, their website is utterly useless.

So, I have a few boxes to ship home for Christmas. The heavy stuff is going USPS flat rate, but the knitted items are lightweight and bulky enough that I figured it wouldn’t be economical. Now, I have a choice of stopping by the UPS store near my house, or dragging my box to work and adding it to our FedEx pickup. Now, I didn’t feel like carrying a bulky box on public transit at rush hour, so I figured I’d go UPS. BIG MISTAKE!!!

First off, the website. I went looking for the last day to ship. Couldn’t find one. FedEx has a last day to ship calendar, so does the Postal Service, so clearly it isn’t that hard to do. But all UPS tells me in their holiday schedule is the days they won’t be delivering. Which is nice, but doesn’t actually help me get things there on time. This probably should have been my first clue to ship through someone else, but I didn’t.

Okay, so I move on to plan B, which is wasting a significant amount of my time inputting the esetimated weight of my package and the zip codes, and trying to figure out the last day I could ship. I put in today’s date (this was last week) and got an estimate that Ground would be delivered by Dec 24th, and 3 Day would arrive in, well, 3 days–so, Friday or Monday.  I also got an estimate that a 5 lb package would cost about $11 to ship ground, and about $24 to ship 3 day. Reasonable, right?

So off I trek this morning, me and my box, and get to the UPS store. This is where the fun begins. First, I am told that UPS ground will not arrive until the week after Christmas, there is NO chance of it getting there before and that they haven’t been able to get ground packages delivered by Christmas since December 6th. THEN I am quoted a price for my box, which ended up being 6 lbs instead of 5. It is more than TWICE what I was estimated online, and I am told that 3 Day shipments will not arrive until Monday or Tuesday. (For those of you counting, that’s 5 business days. I’m willing to give them wiggle room on Monday, since a lot does depend on the timing of delivery and pickup, but come on.)

Now, I was on their website last week, and there was absolutely no information to indicate that ground shipping was no longer an option. How hard would it be to update that information? Also, I know that weight will increase the cost, but 1 lb should NOT double the cost. If they’re using some sort of scale (1-5 lbs = $11, 6-10 =$25) maybe, but then why not make that information public? If that were the case, I’d have taken something out to make it 5 lbs or added a bunch more that I’m sending in a different box to get my money’s worth! Of course, this late in the game I had no choice but to cough up the cash and ship it, but the lack of customer service is ridiculous. From now on, I’m using FedEx or the postal service. It maybe a hassle and more expensive, but at least I know what I’m getting into.

Tarot Card of the Day: Two of Cups

Almost there Monday, Dec 15 2008 

I’m almost to the finish line. My goal is to have all of my gift making and buying done, and everything shipped off  by Saturday. At which point I will hopefully have some time to collapse in a heap on my couch before going off to frolic for Yule. (That, or make cookies.)

Because I’m sure you all care very much (hey, stop laughing) I have decided to share my overly optimistic schedule with you.

So far, I have:

* Finished 4 washcloths for Mom and Aunt
* Finished knitting , seaming, and adding buttons, collars, etc. to Dad’s aran sweater
* Finished two pairs of socks for Aunt
* Went book shopping for all (including myself)
* Began seaming Mom’s sweater
* Began Dad’s thermos cozy

That all sounds good, until you realize what I am going to attempt this week.

Monday
*Go to Lush, buy gifts for Mom and Aunt from self, for Mom from Dad, for Dad from Mom, for family friends and other relatives for all. Annoy them by paying for things in three batches so that I can get reimbursed for gifts not from myself
*Go to Longs, buy boxes, wrapping paper, and possibly a stocking for self
*Finish seaming Mom’s sweater
*Continue work on thermos cozy (finish?)

Tuesday
*Holiday party at work. (Must. Leave. Early.)
*Wrap sweaters, socks, other lightweight gifts and pack in box for UPS
*Finish thermos cozy
*Stop by Philz and/or Blue Bottle at lunch, buy coffee for Dad

Wednesday
* Mail UPS package (get to work late)
* Work late
* Stop by Trader Joe’s for wasabi mayo and crushed garlic (my family is weird)
* Sew cat toys for felines that live afar (in our family, pets outnumber humans)

Thursday
* Networking LGBT holiday party/benefit (need to rsvp, can’t stay too late)
* Begin wrapping and packing heavy gifts to send via priority mail
* Finish cat toys, anything else that didn’t get done on time

Friday
* Bake dog biscuits for canines that live afar
* Assorted finishing and wrapping that remains
* Sew cat toys for own felines
* Dishes!

Saturday
* Head to farmer’s market for flavored balsamic vinegar
* Wrap vinegar, finish packing up heavy gifts
* Mail via priority mail
* Make cookies for Yule
* Yule
* Plan holiday meals
* Cookies for work?

Sunday
* Clean
* Cookies for work?
* Make treats for own felines
* Grocery shopping
* Collapse on couch, wonder who invented the Holidays anyway?

I can totally get this done. Right? Right….?

Tarot Card of the Day: Six of Wands

FO Friday: Lace Washcloth Friday, Dec 12 2008 

I know, washcloths are a rather contested subject in the knitting world. Worth it, or a waste of time? I say worth it, at least to use as face cloths–they feel better on my skin than the storebougt ones. I’m also hoping they last a litle longer, since the cheap ones I buy get washed once eand look like someone chewed on them. (Then again, knowing my cats, maybe someone did.)

Plus, my mother thinks they’re cute and wanted some for Christmas.

Washcloth

After slogging away on sweaters, I was in  the mood for a quick knit last Sunday. This lace waschloth only took one afternoon. I used Sugar and Cream cotton on size 8 needles. I’ve got another, coordinating one that I didn’t photograph yet, and I’m planning on wrapping them up with some nice shampoo and conditioner from Lush, for a luxury bath gift. Because even though I’m pro-washcloth, giving them alone just seems kind of silly.

Tarot Card of the Day: Five of Pentacles

WIP: Leaves of Whimsy Thursday, Dec 11 2008 

Leaves of Whimsy

Not much to say–I was busy working late last night, so I didn’t get much time to knit. I’ve been working on these Leaves of Whimsy socks for my aunt. I love the pattern and color, they’re so pretty! In fact, my Mom almost stole them when she came to visit.

Unfortunately, they require a little bit more concentration to knit, so I had to put them down while squeezing in some time to watch Top Chef. I love the show, but I have to say  that lately the  fans are rubbing me the wrong way. How come, when a guy is confident he’s a good chef, and when a woman is, she’s arrogant? Or if a guy gets angry, it’s because he’s frustrated, but if a woman shows anger or disappointment, she’s immature and bitchy? It’s people saying things like that who really get me into a feminist lather. Seriously? How are we ever going to go places if we’re expected to be sweet and self-deprecating all the time?

But that is a post for another time. For now, I leave you with socks. And a Padma cat.

Padma's throne

Tarot Card of the Day: The Empress

FO: Joanne’s Christmas Socks Wednesday, Dec 10 2008 

The first holiday FO!

Joanne's Socks

The socks are for my Aunt Joanne, and they’re just plain vanilla socks. I wove the ends in last night, making them the first official FO of Holiday knitting 2008.

Between last night and this morning, I also managed to weave in the ends on everything else that’s done or in pieces. Now I have to hit the stores for a few non-knitted things (we are not a one-gift-per-person family, we are a many gifts family), assemble both sweaters, finish the foot and toe on Joanne’s 2nd pair of socks and weave in the ends on those, and knit my Dad’s thermos cozy. Then mail it all off! Provided I don’t get distracted, I think I can make it.

Then? It’s fun knitting time again!

Tarot Card of the Day:
Ten of Pentacles

Sleeves of Doom are DONE! Tuesday, Dec 9 2008 

While I was totally MIA from the blogosphere during my Mom’s visit, I did manage to squeeze in some knitting. Mostly because I explained that if people wanted to, y’know, have Christmas presents that were actually finished, there really wasn’t an option to take a break.

I finished the sleeves for my Dad’s sweater.

Dad's Sleeves

They’re looking good, and by the end of sleeve #2, let me tell you, I was never so glad to see something be done. I am a tad worried about having enough yarn left to do the collar and tabs, so I’ve decided to use a different but similar yarn to sew everything up. I began weaving in ends this morning, in preperation for the sewing. I hate weaving in ends, and my one pet peeve about Wool of the Andes is that the relatively short skeins mean more ends to weave in. But I’ll keep plugging along.

Tarot Card of the Day: Queen of Wands

Holiday Knitting Progress Report Thursday, Nov 20 2008 

I’ve scaled back on some of my holiday plans–no birthday presents for my Dad and Aunt, I’ll work on those for next year. That takes a big load off of my mind, and I think I’ll actually pull this off.

Here’s how my progress is shaping up:

Mom
Rollneck tee–knitted, ends need weaving in and sewn together. In hibernation while she visits me
Washcloths–need to knit

Dad
It’s on the Tab–need to finish knitting 2nd sleeve, weave in ends, sew up and finish
Thermos cozy/holder–need to knit (and design)

Joanne
Self-patterning socks–need to finish foot of sock #2
Leaves of Whimsy socks–beginning leg of sock #2
washcloths–1 knit, 1 needs to be knit

Cats (x3)
collars–need to be sewn
maybe catnip toys?

Dogs (x2)
I have no idea; sewn dog toy maybe? or homemade dog treats?

It looks a little overwhelming, but I think I can make it. Then I will finally work on things for me!

Tarot Card of the Day: Seven of Swords

Selfish Knitter Tuesday, Nov 18 2008 

I admit it. I am a selfish knitter. Most of the things I knit are for me, and I’m fine with that. It is my hobby, after all.

But, once a year during that holiday season, I put all of that aside. I knit for others, and it starts out well. I think of my loved ones and how they will recieve such hand-crafted wonderfulness, and I knit away.

Then, I start getting bored. I always forget how long men’s sweaters take, or how much I dislike colors that some of my relatives love. But I keep knitting. And I keep knitting. I will keep knitting, until I’m finished and have packed everything up in a box and shipped it off.

But you know what? I’d totally kill just to cast on something fun for me right now.

Tarot Card of the Day: Queen of Cups

Progress: Aunt Joanne’s Holiday Socks Thursday, Nov 13 2008 

I’ve also been knitting on pair #1 of my aunt’s holiday socks. They’re coming along nicely, except that I keep losing needles.

No, I don’t know how I manage that. I just buy a new set and move on.

Joanne's Xmas Socks 08

I kind of have a love/hate relationship with these socks. I went with this yarn because it wasn’t super girly (she’s not really a pink, girly person) but also wasn’t blue or green. She likes blue and green, but it seems like everything I’ve knit her for the past few years has been blue and/or green. I was kinda feeling like a one-trick pony. (I still am, actually, since I’ve done socks for her before, and this year will be pairs 3 and 4, but she doesn’t really wear sweaters. And, really, who couldn’t use more socks?)

Anyway. Some days I look at this yarn and I think it’s gorgeous and fantastic and has this kind of southwest desert vibe going. Other days, I look at it and I just think meh. What do you guys think?

Tarot Card of the Day: Ten of Pentacles

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