Of Failures, Fibers and Finished Objects

So let me start this off with an apology.  When I started my blog it was just about knitting and probably 90% or more for my own edification.  Then I made a couple things and a few things more and found myself with a blog that while not front page news is being visited more days than not out of the year.  So this year I started off with a goal of bumping up that post number so there would be a bit to read a bit more often… and its looking an awful lot like I’ve failed at that, but I hope you will forgive me as I keep trying to keep up.

I was kind of holding off on updating this time because of my failure feelings, so you can probably imagine my surprise when I have six finished objects to share.

First up, I finished my twisted two color socks made from yarn swap yarn!

The pattern for these is an obscure free one called Twisted. Its done without a cable needle and for me, I decided to continue the design on the legs, which meant going up a needle size.

Then I turned up the full steam of “really its only 180 more rows” and finished up my There and Back Again Hobbit Scarf even before Ben’s birthday.  I figure this way he can wear it on the winter trip rather than finish for Christmas and have him freeze before then.

Now if I had this to knit over again, I’d probably not have chosen single ply yarns (the pills!) and I’d have picked a true solid instead of a tonal.  That said, the charts are exceptionally well done and its an epic scarf with an epic tale.

Now at this point I shall remind you that I was yarn swapping last post and so point out that my gifter sent me some AMAZING gifts, including a glorious skein she spun herself (on the left here).

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This is relevant because whenever I do a yarn swap I have a wonderful time picking out the yarn to give which is then immediately followed by shame and guilt over yarns that are still in my stash.  There is yarn in my stash I was gifted three years ago.  You see… I have this thing where gifts are significant to me, and thus yarn gifts need to become something significant and meaningful.  And there are a few yarns that end up in that pile too… such as the Araucania Lauca yarn which was a wool, camel and silk blend.

So I fixed that by knitting up a honey cowl, and in true “leave no yards behind” mentality I also made up a matching slouchy hat.

Now September and October are currently lace knit along months and so I started out with a lace and bead cowl.   The yarn for this one includes Sea Cells in the blend, which is made from the cellulose of sea weed fibers, and when I saw it on the yarn crawl this year I knew it was in need of something with beads.

I should mention that this is my first time using bicone style beads and they are taller than a typical 6/0 bead so instead of border beads on the side of the pattern I just did a simple purl stitch.  I restarted this so many times before I did that change just trying to make it work.  This was a classic example for no one is judging your final project based on the tribulations you went through except you…. unless you tell them.

Which brings us at last to the sixth finished object.  Technically this was cast on way back in January, but at that time I had a bit going on and this is a pattern with both front and back side charting and is one of those projects you kind of have to pay attention to… but boy is it worth it.

This is in fact another swap yarn and you may remember it from the Maple shawl.  This time its a white oak lace scarf, and there is actually a bit of this yarn left… I’m contemplating a matching hat to finish it off, but don’t hold your breath just yet on that one.

Whew! That’s quite a few finishes.

But wait!… There’s More!

I did put Fiber in the title for a reason… and not just because I was going to namedrop so many different fibers either.  It was actually about something that came just today.  I found a thrift auction for 6 lbs of wool fleece, and it was a good enough deal that I bought it.

For yarn reference there are over 450 grams in a pound and most average commercial skeins weigh either 50 or 100 grams.  Its a very big bag.

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The majority of the bag looks to already be washed and is ready to be carded then spun.  There was a smaller amount of it still “in the grease” which shows it was a bit of a curly hair breed.

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So we will see how this new endeavor spins out.

And lastly a WIP update… I need to get back to my tulip cross stitch.. I did make it past the half way spot, but I’m a bit behind for where I wanted to be at this point.

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Everything is happening, so Nothing is happening

Life never seems to happen at a steady pace, it surges and wanes into tides.  Its not that there isn’t progress in a wane period, its just that we mark the starts and ends of things.

Which means that I have plenty of WIP to post, just not much for the done pile.  I actually did finish two projects, but one is a gift and the other is… well its brown.

Now keep in mind I LIKE the chocolate brown and it is 100% Alpaca so its soft and warm.  This yarn was languishing in my stash for the past two years from a yarn swap and ever subsequent yarn swap I have this extreme onset of guilty feelings about not having used yarns from previous swaps or gifts.  But I’m not sold on its final form and perhaps I’ll just have to frog it and start over again.

So onto the WIPS!

I was determined to finish those blocks by my anniversary, so I set our a few days to finish off the last few. They need trimmed up and I am considering adding some inner vining borders, but overall here’s where we are.  New goal is to have the top and backing done and ready for quilting by Christmas.

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I am technically still on schedule for my cross stitch project since I am working on the 3rd quarter in the 3rd quarter, but it feels like I’m a bit behind.  My hobbit scarf is actually behind by about 60 rows.  We are currently riding in barrels on the way to Lake Town, but if I can get to the Last Light of Durin’s day by the last light of August 31 then I’ll be caught up again.

Meanwhile in the “it seemed like a good idea at the time” and “good lord what can I do for the Ravellnic games” depts…  A fellow knitter started a color work socks informal KAL.  And I started two different socks and then they got set aside to join that one sock on the last round I was in of Sock Madness 9 in May of 2015.  So that’s my challenge… to finish up all of my partial color work socks.

You might recognize that blue yarn in the last sock… its from my most recent completed yarn swap.  I am midway in another swap.  My recipient has already received what I sent and took great photos.  And I really can’t wait to see what shows up at my door.  Until then… back to socks and scarves and stitchery things.

 

A Knights Tour

Two years ago, a user on reddit posted a TIL about the concept of a knights tour and the sheer volume of tours a knight can make on a standard 8×8 chess board.  The thumbnail of which was a knight’s graph image showing the number and move lines for a knight on that same size chess board.  All I could see was a future quilt.

I’ve posted this as a work in progress a couple times since then, but today I just finished the last of the bind off so I’m ready to call it my first 2016 quilt.  There are some minor items that need to be done (quilt tag, a final seam on the hanging loop, the first washing) but overall I am very pleased with how it came out.

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The coloration of the circles within the squares represents the number of possible moves from that square and the quilted lines are the moves.  Final size was ~60″ by 60″ and my plan is to hang this one.  The outer edges look like an argyle quilting, but its worth noting that in some tours that back and forth circuit is clearly visible.

Here’s a few more beauty shots!

I have no plans (as yet) to make any oversize chess pieces.  Next up in quilting… the last few of my wedding quilt blocks!

Yarn Shop Hops and Swaps

Before I get into the yarn eye candy, let me start with a view of my 2016 sock collection from Sock Madness.

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Just like last year, by the time we reach the finals I have thoughts of designing a sock for the next time.  Technically I have until September, but thus far my pile of projects doesn’t look like it has an opening.

At any rate, I ended up out on Round 5 with the upper left socks, Eisregen.  And while they only took 13 days, those 13 days included a trip to Mount Rainier (we were hosting a guest), the redditgifts yarn swap, and my first LYS tour hop.  Which means I may have gotten a bit carried away on the swap.  She said crochet, not too fussy about yarn quality, and purple; do you know how many shades of purple there are? Way more than the five I sent, but I hope it was a good first swap for them.  I actually ended up receiving from the person I sent yarn to last year!  She sent me a skein she hand dyed herself.

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I’ve got it wound up and set aside with a gunmetal grey for what I think may turn into a pair of Twisted socks.

I did manage to contain myself in the yarn shopping. (My husband may not fully agree, but he wasn’t there so he didn’t see all the yarn I didn’t buy, did he?)

Here’s my first day haul:

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I specifically wanted to try the Smooshy with Cashmere since I really love my socks from last years madness which were a cashmere blend. The skein on the right is by a local dyer that I met to hand off the remnant from my Golden Waikimari socks and there is some up currently in their etsy shop. The two on the right are my first yarns with sparkles, since I don’t look at color labels I found myself at the register discussing how much I liked the second from left colorway and saying it reminded me of “80s rose wallpaper” its called Zombie… which is OK too.

On Day Two I may have found a couple crazy deals at a shops discount section.

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The three on the left all came from the same shop, but the navy is a mink and the white is a cashmere… and how do you leave such softness behind?  I was thinking maybe some lacey brioche project, though the white is significantly more yardage than the blue. The pale amethyst and mint on the lower left clearly has said it needs lace and beads and gets its shine from sea cell, which is basically a rayon made from seaweed.

So two days combined with a couple thrift shop pick ups and… my yarn stash is threatening to regrow. Thankfully the local energy co-op has someone new looking to make hats for charity, and some fellow knitters are doing stash busting projects so hopefully I can destash a bit yet this year.

On the fabric front, the annual quilt shop hop is happening next week. ¬.¬

I am not sure what happened but there are significantly fewer shops this year and looking at my fabric and yarn stashes I’m leaning towards not going this year.  I do like the fabric this year so I might have to visit one or two shops, but I think I won’t do the bus.

This is a story and a sweater named Isabelle

Large projects like sweaters and blankets take on a bit of their own life.  Probably from soaking up just how much life happens during the time it takes for them to get made. Unlike many of my posts this one is probably a bit more personal, so don’t feel bad if you skip the reading for the photos. (And yes…. I take terrible selfies)

I started last November around the same time I decided to pursue some health issues that had been bothering me.  More recent symptoms had given me a bit more of a clue as to what to look into.  I’d managed to get past the armholes and was still working away at the body (Thankfully at this point with the lace panel memorized!) at my first endocrinology appointment in January. KNITWITS-APP-IMG_20151126_194627_2

It was at that particular appointment I got the news that my blood sugar was particularly high and I may want to try losing some weight to try and improve that result additionally it may have some impact on my other issues.  Meanwhile scans and labs were ordered and just maybe I’d have a few answers come February.

I was not particularly hopeful with the weight loss idea having been through some of the miasma of magical thinking that can follow around the idea of how such feats should be undertaken.  (Never eat X!; Only eat Y!; Fad-diet-of-the-moment is the only way to go!; Everything in life will be perfect if you just make it to this magic number on the scale)  But trying and failing had a bit more possibilities than not trying and failing, so I set out to try.  About a week in, I mentioned to a friend I was dieting (literally that single word in a list of things) in passing as part of a “what are you up to?” query.   Then a short time later watched as they went on a public tirade about dieting (some of which I agree with since it was in reference to the magical thinking bits I mentioned earlier) that ended in a don’t ever speak to me about this subject.

I won’t lie, it felt very personal and hurtful. It still does.  But you wipe your tears and try to keep on doing what is best for yourself.

IMG_20160223_143229_2So I kept on with my spring cleaning, flower planting, Knit Alongs and Quilt Alongs and got myself prepared for Sock Madness.  And by February I’d put several inches on my Isabelle in time for the follow up appointment (Though this time I was knitting socks for the Madness at my appointment). This isn’t too terribly slow considering my knit speed and its a fingering weight, but it does shed some light on how ambitious my intent for NaKniSweMo was.

Finally with only about 20 years between the first time I asked “Is this normal?” I had an answer.  Its PCOS. And while its not a get diagnosis and get cured kind of issue, it does have options to deal with symptoms. There is a certain relief in the knowing, and a small bit of hope.

With all the spring activities and start of Sock Madness, it took me up to the very end of March to finish the body, but on the plus side I did manage a somewhat decent selfie for the progress photo on the blog. And a week later I made the goal my doctor had suggested.

KNITWITS-APP-IMG_20160511_093444By May 11th when I finally finished the first sleeve, my Isabelle was becoming well traveled; Kansas, Oregon, and even Vancouver, BC.  At least knitting projects don’t need passports. I made my own first goal of “well if we can make that, let’s try for 5 more.”

Normally, I’d have put Isabelle on pause to work on my monthly Hobbit Scarf chart, but at the encouragement of my husband (future scarf owner) I cast on the second sleeve. I kept at it until the last competitive (for me) Sock Madness round which took me 10 days to do over 200 bobbles on just one pair of socks. Then right back into my Isabelle.

It took about 14.5 skeins of my vintage, thrifted, no yardage listed yarn (out of a possible 26) to finish so my estimated materials cost is about $23, although my labor is an entirely other matter. But by the last day of May she was finally off the needles and into the soak and then block stage.

Although I worried about the fit with my changing body, and the more immediate panic when the soak had created the stench of moth balls out of my vintage yarn, Isabelle fits. The soak smell has disappeared.  Its beautiful. As for that other stuff, well… its still a work in progress.

From Russia With Love

No, I didn’t move to Russia… but I have been using the Russian Join with my sweater project so I thought I would share how to do that particular join. Its particularly useful with a plied yarn.

To start you will need an appropriately sized tapestry needle, and of course the old and new yarn.  Prepare to join when you still have several inches of yarn left.

Start by threading one end of the yarn onto your needle.  Then thread your tail end back through the strand it came from.  You may want to untwist your plies a bit to make this neater.

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Do not pull it tight as you want to leave a small loop.

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Move your tapestry needle to your other yarn end and you are going to do the same thing while threading your new loop through the one you just made.

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At this point you now have two loops connected together. Gently pull the tails of your yarns and those loops will snug up.  I also recommend a tug or two on the main thread of your yarn during this process.

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Now you will just need to trim your tails.  IMG_20160512_094947

This particular join is a bit more difficult to spot as its just a spot in your long yarn that is a bit thicker.  Its also fairly strong as the pulling of the yarn away from the knot works to tighten the knot.

As for my sweater… I’m half a sleeve from being done!  So hopefully I’ll have a finished garment to show you soon.

Bind Off and Flail!

I am a bit behind this month on my posting.  But it all goes back to the topic at hand.  I have been pretty good most of the time making monthly goals and getting things I want to do done.  But every now and again the instant I finish a project, my brain spits out an error message and I get stuck in this loop of “what should I do next?!”  Do I focus on catching up a quilt project? Or maybe work on freeing up a knit project?  Or perhaps the cross stitch project?  And that’s precisely what happened after I finished my latest Sock Madness socks.  Which I really love how they came out!

Golden Fleece Feet

I ended up #17 out of 30 to advance to the next round, and then they have given us an optional round pattern which I’ve not started, because I’m hopping around doing all the other bits.

I squeaked in two more of my block a day quilt blocks.  Technically I should be done with the inner medallion of squares, but I’m really behind.  I was going to measure up the backs for both the snowflake and the chess quilt, but I discovered that I am short a few supplies for the back of the snowflake.  So I instead snipped out some of the extra backside fabric from my flake so that when its laid on the batting it won’t look so dark.

 

Since my other Knit ALong group was also doing socks and I felt like I was cheating a bit being in sock madness; I cast on a sock using some worsted superwash I need to use up (its leftovers from Debora) and I did manage to finish my monthly Hobbit progress!  (We are now past the Carrock and moving into Murkwood and spiders!)

And in my midst of not wanting to “fall behind” on my projects I realized that April is the start of the second quarter of the year, so this naturally means I need to work on the second quarter of my tulip cross stitch project.

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Between all this I’ve been trying to keep up on my gardening and housekeeping (hey the linen closet got sorted and refolded!) And I’d like to say that all that stuff was the reason I was a bit later updating the blog.  But in reality, my brain was looking at things that weren’t done and things yet to get done and it felt like this ominous cloud of “Not finished!” “Undone!” “Incomplete!” right up to the point I wrote this post and sorted out photos and realized… progress even when its not a finish on all of these things has been moving right along.

Now… what should I work on today?

Spring Fever or Just Sock Madness?

Spring is certainly upon us.  I’m celebrating the sprouts and blooms, and as usual, finding even more things to plant. (Trying to catch up with my grandmother, but she has a walled garden and I have elk and deer)

So I confess I don’t feel like I haven’t gotten as many projects ticked over from in-progress to the done pile this month.  I did get my First Round Bracket/Team Sock Madness socks finished in time to go on to the next round.  These certainly fit my spring theme with their bright colors and lace blooms.

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Absolutely positively TSA worthy socks. (Kind of a pity we went electric and so now do more road trips than air trips in that regard.. pretty much the only downside so far)

Here’s the progress status on the WIP pile this month:

  • One more chart done on the Hobbit Scarf (We found the ring!)yyuicx2nqdovgj4-l6ggyh7r34f0ls6egu4o3h68thtjucvkjhb55rhhtnsb5ohooy521-1xrf_uayww6r7uwquei1tjijvkkq4k
  • Got my Sweater body done, next up a pair of sleeves! IMG_20160330_151309
  • Bought the backing for my Knight’s Tour quilt. IMG_20160330_161824

I did take a day for baking after getting my new oven! (Woo!!!) and I’m going to try to squeak in the hand appliqué of my snowflake top before the end of the month, so I can tick that off my monthly goals, but while its been quite a bit of progress, it could use a few more finishes.

The Gothic Easter Bunny and the first mad socks

I may have mentioned before that I sometimes find thrift yarn shopping a bit fun.  It is probably not super great for my stash and keeping organized.  One of my prior buys had a bit of bulky yarn in it… which isn’t my typical use yarn and so it found itself filed in the same box as some others that might as well be called, “Interesting but, she’s just not that into you”.  Its probably worth noting that my very first knitting project yarn was frogged and currently lives in this box, so its not a case of them being bad yarns per se.

One part of my new years resolution was to sort through this box and Knit It or Quit It.  If the yarns don’t get knit (or at least project ideas picked for them) then its off to someone else.

 

And so with the trepidation of being only relatively certain the unlabeled bulky was wool… I set out to felt my first thing.  Just a simple bowl//basket shape with some beaded fur held double at the edges to start.  Then into the wash on hot with a pair of jeans….

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I call it my Gothic Easter Bunny Basket.  This one came out perfect (in my opinion) so fresh on the heels of my success I tried out a few more felted items using slip stitches and another yarn from the same thrift stash.  And well… here’s the before and after shots.

Not quite as sold on how these turned out, debating if I should try felting a bit more, or just give them a nice sweater shave…. Possibly the wool content was a bit more of a blend in these yarns.

There are a bit more of these yarns left, and if I can sort out where to get nice cork clog soles I’d totally want to try to make those.  So back into the puzzle box for you bulky yarns!

I finished my qualifying round of Sock Madness socks. As is traditional when speed knitting.. the first finished photos may suffer from the lighting in the later hours when they were completed. So I took another photo today when there was a bit more sunshine.

Now I am working my way through the mountains and into the goblin kingdom on this months chart of the Hobbit scarf. (Kind of looking forward to finding the ring!)

 

Getting Ready to Go Mad

Sock Madness is coming up right around the corner and I’m signed up again.  I made it into Round 6 last year.  So in anticipation, I’ve sorted out some yarn options for the Madness and spent a portion of the other day turning hanks into balls.

This year I also decided to put together a few prizes for the Madness, so I put together some notion bags and fabric boxes with working button holes so you can use them like a yarn bowl if that’s your jam.

The bag tutorial can be found here, and the fabric boxes here.  My only alteration was to add working button holes to the boxes instead of just decorative buttons.

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I bought my zippers and buttons at Pacific Fabrics and picked up the rest of their Row by Row kits to make a nice PNW quilt. (Can there be more hours in the day?) That’s what it will eventually look like there on the left.

Sometimes I feel like the quilting side of things tends to fall behind… and if I want to get my goal of seven quilts this year I’m going to have to kick over into quilt-ville after the Madness. Today I put in the first six days of February of my 365 day challenge.

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And before I forget…. I did finish my KAL shawl!  Its the latest in my bird themed ones.  This one is based on the local Stellar’s Jays with their blue and black.