It’s OK if your toes don’t match

Sometimes you just have to take life as it comes at you. Sometimes its big things, and sometimes its just annoying things, and sometimes it feels like all the things all at the same time. This year has devolved a bit into one of those years for me. And while it might not be the most healthy approach to dealing with it, I tend to fall back on to just getting things done. They don’t have to be perfect but they need to move into the done pile and can’t linger in the projects in progress that weighs like an obligation.

So there I was approaching the end of July still working on my socks from June and sweater from May with a pair of socks still yet unstarted for my actual July project and… I ran out of yarn on the second toe. So I made the choice to sub in a scrap bit of yarn on toe two. Its ok, the socks are functional. I still chased down a matching scrap from a fellow Raveler but in the mean time… its ok the toes don’t match. They are done and beautiful.

I also managed to finish up the sweater AND the two pair of Anniversary socks. The sweater is my second one out of the stash of vintage black crepe yarn I picked up at a thrift store. It doesn’t photograph so well and it could use some buttons but again… its done!

I really like being able to finish things and not have them linger. So I also finished up the quilting on my Contours quilt kit, which I’d had pin basted for about six months and just didn’t feel very confident in my abilities on the quilting it kind of fancy. So I quilted it with scribbles and wavy lines and enjoyed every minute of the binding even if the quilting wasn’t so grand.

Now personally I am having a significant number of feelings about patriotism these days. But I came up with the idea for this quilt top back when I had more optimism as a thank you for some friends of ours that sometimes invite us to their July 4th celebrations. The final dimensions ended up at a very optimistic 54 x 40.

And once again… look at all the things we got done because we just needed a tick in the win column and it didn’t matter that the toes didn’t match.

Its been forever and nothing got done…

There are certainly times it feels like its been so much longer and so little finished I’d have nothing to say.  Usually I have to start out flipping back through photos to figure out if I did actually manage to finish things and sure enough there is.

So first up let’s finish off Sock Madness… the Mobius madness socks knocked me out since its fairly easy to twist something any which way once but figuring out how to flip it the other way was just not in my wheelhouse.  Plus I had real trouble reading the twist as I was knitting it until I was several rows in because of how you knit it.

The next sock was a three color sock and its beautiful but I’ve not yet gotten even the first one done.  Normally this is where I toss in the towel on socks but they were rather cool looking and the pattern at the end was the very last BBK pattern which includes beads or as she would call them… bling.  So I used up nearly the last of my fingering weight from Neighborhood Fiber Co to knit those.. and then managed to use the absolute last of it making the last Lacy not Lazy so I’d have a matching pair.

In the midst of all this sock knitting it was also kitten season… which for me meant kitten hunting season.  You may recall from the prior post that Conan turned 17 this year.  He has health issues and our other cat, Kaylee, has bonded rather closely with him but was incredibly under socialized when we first got her.  So last winter we decided this spring we would keep an eye out and look to adopt a new kitten so she would have some time to bond with another friend as well.  Finally on May 28, we managed to make an appointment at a shelter and adopted this guy into our home…. he’s called Balex.  And he has a lot to learn about knitting FO photography.  And yes… this does mean we have three orange cats, but that’s just because the orange ones are so awesome!

So you’d think after all those socks I’d be back onto the second sweater but… nope! I circled back to my April Mystery Stash KAL and finished a pair of Hermoine’s Everyday Socks in April Showers.  June’s project was to make some Coffee Cantata socks and I’ve got half a leg done… but opening the July bin… its time to make our semi-matchy anniversary socks in Rainbow and Grey.

Hopefully July will get me caught up to at least the things I have planned… but life has been coming pretty fast lately.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle & Repair

So as someone with a not so tiny fabric and yarn stash, I’m doing alright at crafting in a time of Staying Home for Covid.  It certainly doesn’t hurt that its also Sock Madness time so for brief bits of time I have specific projects to occupy my time.  This year I made it into Round 5, and we came up against a rather technical sock and I didn’t make it into the Final Five round Six, but I’m still plenty pleased with how I did since to me its all for learning skills and making socks. This year there was a significant portion of colorwork socks in their various forms. Here’s a few including the vibrant yellow of a warm up pair but just one of the three teal & aqua I ended up making with a fourth planned for someday soon.  But at least I have reduced some of my yarn stash right?

April was slated to be a pair of Hermoine’s Everyday Socks in my Mystery Stash Bust along… but the timing felt like I’d be running into other Madness rounds so I substituted in a pair of Morrison socks which were a DK weight.  Theses were on a yarn dyed by Black Trillium whom sadly is getting out of yarn dying. So I may have partook in the going out of business sale and this is also partially why I have such a stash.  In my defense… the socks and a couple of the skeins are for Ben so….

May is also Conan’s 17th birthday month.  So to tackle his gift it was decided to make him a heated car bed.  You can buy a basic heating mat to place under the cushion in a traditional store bought bed, but you can’t just expect a cat that regularly sleeps on Stargate beds to sleep on something from the store… so into the fabric stash I dove.  I will admit I am a fan of some of the novelty cat prints and came up with a cat and mouse design that seemed big enough for the project.  I quilted the cat fabric through two batting remnants into a fabric that back in my much younger days started out as a sink skirt in an apartment with almost no storage. (Reuse!)  Then I added bolsters with more cat fabric on the interior and a durable Sunbrella fabric on the exterior.  At the bottom I made a pillow of some fleece remnants and stuffed that with overlapping edges and scraps of fleece batting and pillow stuffing.

The heating mat slides between this pillow bottom and the quilted topper.  The bed was a pretty big hit and is large enough for at least two snuggling orange cats. Conan is pretty good about sharing with Kaylee

Quite some time ago in 2015, I picked up several Row by Row quilt kits and even went so far as to assemble an umbrellas and a rain boots set of rows.

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And that was as far as I got but with me trying to organize my stash and use up… I found fabrics a couple years back that also exemplified the rain and with a bit of pondering and math I decided I could make something of them if I turned those rows back into blocks. (Recycle!) So I pulled the seams and did a bit more math and am able to present at least the center of a Rainy Day quilt top!

Sadly while I do have enough of the Rain drops trim, I am mostly out of the Umbrella tops fabric (and the novelty toss) which I think would be an ideal border so its going to probably sit a bit longer until shops re-open or my online wandering find a new solution.

Which finally brings us to the repair portion.  This happens with socks… sometimes far sooner and more often than I would hope for, but there it is. I know I have posted before about the use of duplicate stitching and making patches to fix them, but my husband presented me with a unique problem recently in his Bamboo socks I had just made up last October.  He wore BOTH the toe soles out of them!

img_3497So I decided it would be best just to take out that portion of the toes and reknit them back from the yarn I still had in my partial balls stash.  (I’d like to say this is the reason I keep them but honestly its that I rarely make up scraps projects)

Step one is pretty easy, you just snip out the toe and then start unraveling like you were unhappy with it, until you end up with a row of loop stitches.  Then thread your needles through the loops, join your yarn and reknit back down the toe.  Be sure to look carefully which way your yarn is on your needle as I find I tend to pick up twisted and then need to knit the first row through the back of the loops to get it to untwist.

Now, yes there is some color variation due to wear, but a few washes along and it will even out a bit more.  You can also (I did this on one of them) use the yarn that you pulled out of the toe and duplicate stitch reinforce that area where the hole formed to give it a bit more sturdy of fabric.

Whew…. that was quite a lot going on in April and early May… and I didn’t even get into the next sweater of the year… guess I’ll save that for next time. 🙂

The Knit Goes On

So February exited rather dramatically here on in the Pacific NorthWest, and of course now its spread much farther.  For many people that means a bit more crafting time.  Not that many of us will actually achieve our imagination’s ability to dream up all those things we could finish if we only had the time, but maybe a bit more than some.

Spring In Her Path

For me, I was impressed with myself on being able to actually knit a fingering weight sweater in one month as I managed to finish my February Stash KAL project, the Spring in Her Path sweater.

This actually means I’m three quarters of the way through my sweater club sweaters.  Previously I made the worsted weight Nutmeg Ginger, and the sport weight Waterfall Cardigan.  It still a bit cold here, but I might have tried to give it a blog debut with a first of the year cone to match up with a last of the year cone of the Nutmeg Ginger sweater, but alas the Tulip Festival has been recently cancelled, and so too our usual plans for a long drive and waiting in line for a monster ice cream.  I’ll just have to delay the satisfaction.

I managed to sneak in a pair of fingerless mitts from a KAL.  I’ve decided they shall be my driving gloves for when its a little too chilly in the mornings on the way to the pool… next fall.

March brought with it the start of Sock Madness, and my next Mystery Stash KAL project which turned out to be a cabled and lace scarf.  Followed up with the first round of Madness… which I’ve managed to finish in time to move on when the round ends.

March was supposed to bring a trip to Vogue Knitting Live, but its since been postponed to some later as yet unannounced date.  This was originally intended to be the major yarn shopping event for my year.  So I did a little virtual shopping to make up for it.  The bottom is from a local yarn dyer I particularly like called Hazel Knits.  The other two are also local-ish dyers that I am trying out.

Expect more socks… maybe even a few with these very yarns in the next update.  Until then.. stay safe everyone!

Winding Up Some Finishes

Ok its that time of year… when one registers for speed sock knitting and attempts to finish up projects in time for Sock Madness! This year I added finishing one of my double knit mittens project that has been on the needles to the “must free the needles” list.  BUT I can safely say that the past month or so has been dedicated to two pair of knock out drop down nearly too pretty to put on your feet socks.

file-5First up the gorgeously beaded Bling! pair designed by Adrienne Fong who sadly passed away this past September and chose to gift all her patterns free.  She was a wonderfully fun person met through Sock Madness and you could count on her to support your wildest beaded sock dreams.

I am happy to report the materials list is out for Sock Madness and one designer does have a sock with beads so that will be fun to look forward to. (There are also quite a few multi-color socks so… hmmm.

Next up are a pair of Artic Blizzard snowflake socks.    These were originally available for the 2018 season of Tour de Sock which was my first year participating and I have adored the pattern because of my love of snowflakes in general. (Seriously snowflakes are amazingly beautiful arts of nature and I could go on a whole rant about how it peeves me that people use it as a term to belittle people, but I won’t… yet.)  It took me a bit to find an appropriately stellina sparkled pale grey/white yarn to pair with my tonal blue so I didn’t finish during the competition but they were so worth the wait! file-6

Both of those sock knitting competitions are great fun and if you think you might like spending your spring knitting all the socks I totally suggest giving one or both a try.  Sock Madness is free to join and so long as you put in a reasonable effort then you will get all the patterns (this year there are 15 patterns!), even if you aren’t the speediest.  It is a good way to learn techniques that may be new to you as well and there are prizes awarded throughout the competition that are not just speed or skill based.  The Tour does have an entry fee, but the majority of this fee is going to the charity Doctors Without Borders.  You compete both as an individual or on a team if you want to bring along some sock knitting friends, get sock patterns, and give to charity all in one.  As a general rule, the Tour tends to start just as Sock Madness is winding down.

file-4Whew!  now… as to my Mystery Stash project, in January I completed a Petra Lace Scarf.  This yarn was a special gift from my husband in a matching set of two skeins each for both my mother-in-law and myself back in 2015 when we visited the local(ish) Abundant Earth Fiber mill.  My mother-in-law chose the pattern and the plan was to KAL the scarf together, but over time she’s had difficulties both for her husband and herself and she’s just not knitting anymore.  So when it came time to pick projects, I looked at some of my “elder stash” and decided I’d finish one scarf, and then perhaps swap her a completed scarf for her yarn.  The deep plum doesn’t photograph too well, but strangely enough I think it matches coats we now both own.  This scarf is knit in two pieces and joined with kitchener stitch so that the lace flows the same way down from the center back.

And so now we are on to February and the first sweater of the year.  I cast on my Spring in Her Path sweater with some yarn from my last sweater club yesterday.  Its a fingering weight sweater but if I’ve estimated my yardage right I should have some yarn left for a nice pair of socks too!

 

2020 Mystery Stash of the Month Club

So I enjoy the occasional subscription club (although to be perfectly fair I don’t always go in for the patterns and then stash builds up) so based on my stash size this year I would build my own Mystery Stash of the Month Club.  Another Raveler gave me the base idea and I built from there.

I started by picking 12 pattern/stash combinations that I wanted to knit this year.  Four of those were to be sweaters as I’m certainly trying to work down my sweater quantity stash and that would give me one per quarter.  The other 8 could be anything.  This was actually kind of easy as I have more frequently bought stash with patterns in mind OR single skeins for socks.   So here are my piles of yarn (upper left are my 4 sweaters) and I decided since we were part way into January I’d just pick that one myself.

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I numbered bags 2-12 with larger bags for 2, 5, 8 and 11 for my sweaters.  And then I got my husband to play random number generator with an explanation about sweaters and the dual pair of semi-matching socks I’d like to finish prior to our anniversary.  So now my Mystery Stash Buster looks like this:

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So I personally don’t know what project is planned each month, but here’s my February to December Queue of Mystery for 2020 (with links to the patterns on Ravelry because of course!

  1. Iolanthe (Sweater – fingering weight)
  2. Spring in Her Path (Sweater – fingering weight)
  3. Riverway (sweater- lace weight)
  4. Catkin (2 color shawl)
  5. Kirkcaldy Scarf
  6. Delicate Brambles (keyhole scarf)
  7. Coffee Cantata (socks)
  8. Zigzagular Socks (anniversary duo pair)
  9. Hermiones Everyday Socks
  10. Pixel Stitch Socks
  11. Hinterland (Sport weight sweater)

For January I actually decided to tackle a former KAL I’d planned with my mother-in-law.  WAY back in 2015 we visited a yarn mill and my husband bought us both two skeins of an alpaca-merino blend.  My mother-in-law picked the Petra Lace Scarf as our project pattern and was very worried about learning to kitchener stitch.  Well there has been quite a lot of life happening since then and she’s pretty much stopped knitting as a result.  So I stopped waiting and knit mine up and its upstairs blocking (beauty photos later). I may reach out and knit hers up too since coincidentally this particular yarn will very much match her coat for this winter.

2020 Vision

How could I NOT make that pun in the headline?

So I am trying something a bit new this year inspired by all those “of the month” clubs. I’ve decided I’m going to do a Mystery Stash of the Month club out of my own stash yarn.  How it will work is I am picking 12 projects that I have acquired yarn for and setting them aside.  Four of those projects will be sweaters since I want to do one sweater per quarter this year to use up some of my larger stash quantities. I shall enlist the assistance of my husband in sorting them into bags numbered 1-12 (ok 2-14 since I settled on what to stash out for this month I think) and each month I will open its own bag and knit up that project.

I am also planning to finish up my Anniversary Quilt and my Contours Quilt that is actually all ready to be quilted.  That is to be the second full free motion quilting adventure.

So I’m printing patterns and sorting through my stash and getting a bit excited for the year to come!

2019 In Review

In 2019 I managed to finish 2 quilts (3rd is ready for quilting and a fourth has the top done), as well as 3 sweaters and 2 shawls.  Seen here for the first time is the late finish on my NakniSweMo (National Knit a Sweater Month) Anne of Cleves sweater joined by my other large projects of the year.

Back before 2014 I swore I’d never be a sock knitter because the second sock every was just sooooo boring.  Well… I finished 11 pair last year.  ¬.¬

There were a few other notable projects worth mentioning also… I tackled one of my oldest stashed yarns (recorded in Ravelry during the great yarn stash recording of 2013) by knitting it into a drop leaf scarf!  I made my first yarn bowl and my first tea cozy.

There was quite a bit of travel for me this year and one larger unfinished gift that ate into my craft time, so overall I am rather pleased with how it all sorted out.

Things In Motion

You know, sometimes the very best thing about a project isn’t the actual project itself. (I feel like I’ve mentioned this before…)  I could tell you all about the things I learned as I tried free motion quilting a whole quilt for the first time. I figured it was about time since my plan for this one was to keep it for ourselves.  For example, I only got about half done before I remembered to drop the feed dogs so that’s one thing.  But honestly the very best part of this project happened during the binding.

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Last January we adopted a new kitty and named her Kaylee.  Kaylee was not yet a year old, but hadn’t been socialized in the home she was born to.  She is incredibly curious, but also incredibly shy.  One of the assistants at the shelter shared concerns that she might not ever be a lap snuggle cat.  Kaylee loves our older cat Conan even though there is nearly 15 years age gap between the two and he has been a very good example to her in how to be a cat.  She comes up to get pets and treats from my husband and I, and is slowly getting more and more social.

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So trust me when I say, the best thing about this quilt is that part way through the hand binding, Kaylee decided to try out being a lap cat.  And not as in a quick hop up and never fully settle, but a full on settled in several minutes stretch.

Since this experience, she’s getting more at ease with getting up on the couch next to me, but hasn’t yet tried out my husband’s lap other than just a quick situation check.  But I have high hopes for my orange girl’s future.  Though I do have some concerns about our Christmas Tree this year.

 

Rounding the Curve

Well here we are bottom of the 9th of 2019 and I am just now posting my first finish of the four quilts I had planned to finish this year.

Now too be perfectly fair, I finished all four quilt tops and its technically just the quilting portion left, but I’ve discovered that part is not my particular favorite part in all of this quilting business.  I love the designing and assembling the tops and backs and even greatly enjoy the hand stitching down my binding… but most of the quilting is a bit of a snooze.  Though to be perfectly fair, I don’t have a long arm so its quite a bit of quilt wrangling yet.  And this particular quilt called for simple lines which I had just (or at least it felt that way) did on my last quilt.  But at least this time I had a variegated thread for my quilting!

This is an Echoes Quilt kit that I bought to learn how to piece curves.

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I didn’t trim down my curved blocks quite like they did so its more chunky… and I’m not super great at piecing curves I’ve discovered.

For the back I found a wonderfully greens and blues ombre fabric on sale (lucky me).

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This was also my first use of a black batting, which was suggested by my auntie.  I didn’t even know there was such a thing!

So quick 2019 quilt status update: One done, two ready for quilting, and one top completed need to buy and piece the backing.