The 32 days of January

No, that’s not a typo in the title. As I mentioned in my last post, I signed up for a 365 block-a-day quilt.  The designer of which offered two blocks for the first of January, one for the beginners and one for the more advanced.  Well I decided having an extra block might be nice for the grand scheme of things so I made up both.

So while I am still a couple weeks behind (which considering I didn’t sign up until the 22nd of January is closer to caught up than where I started!), I am now able to show all my January blocks.  These are all finished size 3 inch blocks (so 3.5 inches unfinished)

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As for the knitting front… Its getting closer to time to gear up for Sock Madness, so I’m working my WIP and knocking out my February/March KAL shawl early so I can be prepared to knit all the things!

Here’s a few teasers of knits yet to come!

Sharing and Joining in

Some people that know me would tell you that I am kind of selective about what social media sites I frequent and join.  That has its good and its bad points. On the one hand you avoid the spam style commentary, but then you can sometimes miss other things you might be interested in.

img_20150516_230236Last year was my first year joining Ravelry’s Sock Madness group.  I really enjoyed myself, even if I still have not actually finished my last competition round socks. (I got to the first heel and then made a flub and so I was fixing it and just got burned out…sorry!) So its once again February and I’m signed up to give it another go!  I have quite a bit of sock yarn set aside in prep and its an amazing way to grow my sock drawer.  If you want to KAL with us, the sign ups are open and the competition (which is very friendly) starts in March.

Secondly, someone on a quilting board pointed me to a 365 Day Challenge, based out of Australia in which you make a sampler square every day and at the end of the year you have a 90 inch square quilt.  That’s roughly queen size.  Well I’ve signed up and bought a bunch of fabric and now I just need to get going.  I’m about a month behind, but since I am not going for any of the weekly prizes (See also: Above note about social networks) its just for me.  If you want to join in late, the designer is planning to host 3 months of blocks at a time, so you can still find all the blocks that have been released thus far and do so!

And if you don’t want to join in, that’s fine.. how about I just share some of the things I’ve been working on? I have, naturally, been testing out and enjoying my new sewing machine. And after the latest trip to the quilt shop I managed to pick up some fabrics for other projects.

First up, I decided the plethora of strip remnants from my snowman quilt would make a nice base for a scrappy Dresden style snowflake.

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My original thought was that this flake would be on a green background, but this batik made me feel like frosted windows.  So my flake is all pinned out and needs some hand stitching to tack it down.  I am still debating borders to make it bigger or just leave it as it is (roughly 42 inches square)

Secondly I have been on the prowl for a good match or replacement for the border corner chess boards on my Knights Tour quilt and I finally managed to find just the thing.  So I finally managed to get the borders done and now its down to backing and quilting!

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I also put in some work on my wedding signature quilt and practiced Free Motion Quilting on some small Quilt as you go type blocks.  I guess if you like puns you could say I was sew busy.

 

I swear I was only going to look

So, you may recall a couple posts ago I shared that my husband told me he was buying me a larger quilting sewing machine for Christmas.  Something that should enable me to quilt larger than a twin size like my current machine.  So once we got back, with budget in hand, I got down to sorting through possible machines.

One of the things that I wish would change about the sewing realm is that there is a sincere lack of pricing information.  To be honest, its a bit like car shopping wherein you can find all manner of details about the features and functions but the majority of pricing is “call for details”

So I scribbled out a few notes on which machines had good reviews, what the workspace (aka harp space or throat space) was and decided I’d take a trip to the local sewing shop where I bought my last machine and see what they had and probably a trip to a sewing expo in February before I made my final decision.

At least that was the plan.

So yesterday we went into the shop and took a look around.  There was a nice BabyLock Aria right at my budget, and the Juki I had been thinking about and a pair of nice Janome machines, though based on my online searching I figured these were out of my budget range.  But again… there aren’t really much in the way of prices when sewing machine shopping, so we asked anyway.

Turns out they were actually selling their floor model Janome Horizon Memory Craft 8900 QCP!  Complete with the additional remote thread cutting foot that is usually extra.  So instead of looking… we did some buying.

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Numerous feet, including accufeed (like a walking foot) and multiple variations on free motion feet as well as the extension table.  The 11 inch workspace is a nice step up from my prior machine.

Here they are side by side for scale.

IMG_20160113_150058 My husband’s comment upon seeing them side by side was that he didn’t realize in the shop just how much bigger the new machine was. And its not just the machine… one of my adjustments is getting used to how much larger the foot pedal is, when the much smaller thread cutter pedal is about the size of my old machine’s pedal.

The thread spool and numerous feet are stored under the top cover with the bobbin winder and the lid doubles as a handy quick reference to the stitches.

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I’ve done a bit of piecing with it today, played with some stitches and wound a bobbin.  And she sews like a champ!

Now I just need to get my sewing room better organized!

Are we done yet? A post about Progress Tracking

Let me be up front, if you came for some finish photos, well… there won’t be any here today.  In fact when I first thought about making this post I wasn’t even sure there would be knitting or quilting in it.

Confession time; we are now midway into the second week of the year and I have not knit or quilted a thing! Last Wednesday I had nothing to post in the WIP weekly thread for knitting and it surprised even me.   Taking just a moment now and then to track how your projects is good for the soul.  Unfortunately, we sometimes want to scrub our beginning efforts from the record.  I was reminded of this when I went through my stash for yarns I want to use up or donate this year (I’m calling it my Knit It or Quit It stash) found the yarn from my first scarf, which I at one point had frogged. Its a bit of a shame really… and now I am going to find something new to make with it.IMG_20160104_104007

Tracking progress both on an individual project and on abilities over time doesn’t need to be complex.  A large percentage of the population actually have cameras in their phones at their fingertips.  When you finish for the day, or get to a spot you want to track, just snap a quick photo.

Maybe you turned a heel (always feels so satisfying) or got to a point where you could finally see the pattern or texture (and maybe you frog it or keep going) or you are trying out a layout… it doesn’t matter the reason. Taking a few minutes to make a note or snap a photo is worth it.  When you look back across the span of your skill journey you see how your latest socks with its cables/beads/no pattern design compares to that first pair of plain stockinette with a heel turn you just had to believe in the pattern because your brain didn’t yet wrap around the concept yet all fit together.  For my knitting, I upload these to Ravelry. (Pro Tip, if you tag your projects with the year you have a nice view with yardage of what you have done for the year too!) For my quilting, I file them all in a folder/album on Google, since my phone is already set to auto-update to there.  Once a week or so I just go in and move the relevant photos to their albums.

You don’t need to master photography and only take beauty shots either. Its ok to show the wrong side of your work.  In fact, there are times when as a crafter that’s exactly what other people want to see.  Sometimes its to see how that pattern fits a body shape, or how a color variation (variegated/stripes) may look.  Maybe you knit it up and can then show visually what you are having trouble with and ask for help.

And.. because we all know I wasn’t not crafting… here’s my latest WIP.

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My in-laws bought me a cross stitch kit off of my wishlist for Christmas.  Based on my math its final design is in the neighborhood of 50k stitches.  I have already made a few mistakes, corrected a few, and am probably doing it all wrong according to at least one person.  But isn’t it fun to watch it grow?

Gotta have Goals: 2016 Edition

The past couple years I have done fairly well at setting and keeping my crafting goals.  I don’t always hit the overall for the year goal, but I definitely make forward progress.

Its my first Christmas as an officially married woman and my husband gave me this:

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So let’s tackle that first and say… we are getting a machine suitable for quilting larger projects!  A step up the ladder from my Janome DC2011 which I love.

I have another seven quilts, some started, some planned that I would like to tackle this year.  I have one for a gift (Movie theme), and the guest room (greens and yellows).  I have one to use up my white strip scraps from my snowman, and one to use up general scraps with the latest discovered tiling hexagon.  And I have three that have started, including Knight’s Tour, Wedding Wishes and my now nearly infamously languishing in WIP land, Field of Stars.

On the knitting front, I have more socks (Going to go in for Sock Madness again I think) and some more lace, and trying to find the bottom of that second overflow stash box!

I have some great patterns and yarn combos in my queue.

I’d like to get a few more designs out of my head and onto a pattern as well.

And now onto the blog and not so crafty front….

Last year I posted 20 posts, which means a few months I just posted once… so this year I am going to aim for at least twice a month updates.  This may mean a few more works in progress instead of dumps of finished items, but we shall see how it shakes out.

I also want to work on getting my craft space (which also flows a bit into my guest room) a bit more organized and usable. I want to read a few more books, and play a few more games too.

 

2015 Recap

So its that time of year when I take a moment to see how things went in the past year. And looking back this year its looking pretty good.

In 2014, I didn’t finish any quilts, and I set a goal in 2015 to finish seven. Well, I finished five.

I did work a bit on some others and hatched a few more plans for quilts, but this brings my completed total to twelve.

I knit over 14,000 yards and I did indeed focus on my stash, some shawls with beads and on socks. I eliminated one of the three overflow stash boxes entirely!

I knit twice as many socks last year as I had in all my knitting time prior!

I did a bit more lace work, with over 3000 beads.  This included my wedding shawl in my own dyed yarn and some never wilting hair flowers.

And I even designed a bit with two patterns published, my hairpin flowers and one project that needs another run through to refine.

So now I’m sitting here feeling like I did SO much last year and wondering just how much I can get done in the coming year.

Presenting some presents

So a few weeks ago I posted a few teasers about some of my holiday projects.  And now that they are finally in the hands of their new owners… It’s time to give them their due.

First up is a project I mentioned over two years ago when I bought the pattern at the 2014 shop hop. Once the post wedding frenzy had calmed down a bit I realized that holidays were coming a bit sooner than a crafter hopes for, and in sorting out my gifting plans, landed on top with a hope that if I really worked on it, I just might finish in time.

*drumroll*

My redwork winter embroidery quilt!

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My embroidery blocks are stitched onto several white/off white on white/offwhite Prints. Various trees, snowflakes and swirls. The remainders and scraps of which got paired with some red prints in a scrappy sampler style border. You can see pinwheels, churn dash, shoo fly and Dutchman’s puzzle blocks in there.

For the back, I chose to piece in three blocks, including one for my gift tag, that I hope looked a bit like some falling flakes.

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Here’s a few detail shots.  There are also several WIP photos in the WIP gallery. 

The recipient called me up to tell me she cried when she opened it… so time well spent!

Secondly… I finished up my Super Mario QAL quilt without Ben being aware I was working on it since my last post about it.  Got it wrapped and took it with us to open on Christmas Morning.

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I had three more blocks and some custom printed level fabric for the back side.

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He also got a knit lego man and a pair of socks that he picked out the yarn for, and promptly wore on the first day of our return trip home.

Which is probably why I am now double knitting him a lace weight single ply Hobbit scarf.  Which I managed to get through the first chart of 11 (8o our of 810 rows!)

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Its beginning to look a bit like Christmas

If you’ve followed along (or read back through the years) you probably know that I do my best not to ruin any gift giving surprises.   And I do have a couple projects saved up for later.

Here’s a nice teaser photo of one such all wrapped up

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There is another package roughly similar in size, and a very smooshy green brioche scarf that is currently “Out for Delivery” to my 2015 Secret Santa.

But I am not here just to tease about things to come.  I also wanted to share a bit of silliness that I completed… a light up Christmas Tree Hat:

I added 30 lights (2 sets of battery powered 15 light strands) and a knit star to this pattern.  Now for me… maybe I just have a bit of a smaller head but the actual hat is a wee large and the battery pack is heavy enough to shift it about on my head, but for a holiday road trip to cheer up family… its perfect.  (btw… a giant pillar candle makes a fine head stand in)

In addition to revealing the aforementioned Christmas gifts… I have some things in the queue for these lovelies:

 

I just need to finish the housework and the pair of rather simple socks on the needles first!

 

 

Get Wrecked! Wreck Yourself Cowl Pattern

The Wreck Yourself Cowl pattern is now live on Rav and on the patterns page!  You will also see that I have added the option for you to purchase direct off my site if you aren’t into the Ravelry scene.  (Though as a knitter… its a pretty amazing scene to be in)

And since you may need both patterns to use up that one skein, I’m offering a discount if you buy both the Check Yourself and the Wreck Yourself Cowl patterns.  Just use the coupon code CheckedBeforeWrecked and it will take $2 (USD) off the total.  Its like buy one, get one for half price.  And if that sounds too complex well… just click here and it will do the whole add patterns and coupons directly for you.  Woohoo!

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Get Wrecked! And NaKniSweMo

I know, I know… its hard to believe but I’m adding a new blog post already!

So first up… the Wreck Yourself Cowl pattern has been written and proofread, and basically all I need is a test knitter who can knit it up and make sure that my brain and my typing fingers weren’t conspiring against me. If that is of interest to you, get in touch (just a phrase you don’t actually have to physically touch me) and I will send you the pattern.

Secondly…. I finished up a hat.  And not just a plain old hat, but a reversible 2 color brioche hat, so its full of smoosh and color!

Pattern is called Flaming Hat (and there is a matching scarf pattern).  The pattern is very well written and charted.  My biggest problems were occasionally dropping a stitch.  So I worked on my how to pick up a dropped brioche stitch skills.

Which brings us to NaKniSweMo… and if you think that’s a made up word, you are right.  Its an abbreviation meant to represent National Knit a Sweater Month.  This is more a knitters commandeering National Novel Writing Month’s premise of writing a 50,000 word (or more) novel in a month.  Only in knitter feats that translates to a 50,000 or more stitch sweater.  I am sort of participating.  I say sort of because… I am skipping the whole how many stitches portion and just knitting up a sweater.  My added difficulty is the yarn I’ve selected (from my stash) is 26 balls of black fingering weight that doesn’t have any yardage listed.  I have attempted to assure my brain that even should each ball only contain 100 yards I have more than enough yarn for the project.  Now I just need my brain to kick over out of “I hope we don’t run out mode.”  As a bonus difficulty I am also attempting to work on a quilting holiday present.  Naturally I can’t post about it here until after its finished, but… COMING SOON!