When it Rains

I live in the Pacific Northwest, known for its coffee, apples and lots of rain. So while I was eager to get photos of the rainy day quilt the weather forecast was saying “maybe next week” and I am feeling too impatient for that. So here are a few photos of my finished Rainy Day Quilt built around a couple broken up rows from the 2015 Row by Row with the theme of “water” and the Western Washington Quilt Shop hop with its umbrellas and raindrops special fabric.

While I was working this one up, it reminded me of an old English poem.

The rain, it rains upon the Just,
And also on the unjust Fella
But Twice as much upon the Just,
For the unjust stole the Just’s Umbrella

Unknown (I looked, its been attributed to a wide variety but wasn’t able to pin down the original wit)

Which means I can claim three whole quilts fully finished this year. I have three more ready for quilting, but one of them is my wedding quilt and I’m not 100% ready for tackling that one in my long arming journey although I do think that some of the stippling turned out alright.

Its been yet another busy several weeks going to Kansas and packing up and painting. So I’ve just managed to get my hats of the month KAL caught up to November and a singular pair of boring vanilla socks completed in knitting. But now I’m back and its National Knit a Sweater Month, so I’ve started on a sweater. Let’s hope I get a bit more knit time in this month and can manage to finish it!

You may remember me from such posts as…

It has been quite some time, and while I wish this update was full of a heck of a lot more quilts and knits to show off… its sadly not. I haven’t given up on either of those hobbies; but life has certainly came along and whacked me upside the head with a frying pan full of life happenings. Since my last post I have been back and forth to Kansas about three times helping out my in-laws which is sadly now just a singular in-law who is now living with us. And, since the room she has moved into was the home of many of my hobby supplies, it all got squished into the craft space that houses my sewing machine and frame. I have needed to do some serious reorganization there.

My Rainy Quilt has been sitting on the quilt frame needing to be unburied to get back to finishing it up. I am doing a bit of all over stippling on the non-umbrella and boots blocks, and up to this point it has been coming together. Here’s a couple progress photos from before the room was taken over by all my unorganized stuff.

I did get a bit of a jump on organizing (Thanks past self!) because I had started to bolt my larger fabric lengths onto cardboard magazine backers with some small binder clips. This makes my fabric a bit tidier and fits in both bins and on bookshelves a bit easier. I had a couple display cabinets of dolls that I packed up and repurposed into my yarn and fabric stash cabinets, and the nightstand from the formerly known as guestroom turned out to fit some small bolts on 5×7 backers for roughly fat quarter size fabrics.

I did manage to finish up a couple pairs of socks but I think the last pair took a month and a half! I am trying to catch back up on the hats of the month KAL, currently behind August and September but I did actually start my September hat yesterday so hopefully it won’t take too long. And oh yeah…. holidays are coming!

So everyone keep your fingers crossed that things start smoothing out soon, or everyone is getting gift cards this year!

Panto Practice

Well I am back… and while I did finish some more socks, I thought I’d talk about my first go at using a pantograph with my quilt frame. It certainly looks so much easier than it actually seemed. And the whole “sewing machine with laser beam” experience tickled the part of my being that laughs at other with laser beam combos.

I decided my next quilt was to be my bargello flag, and picked up a Stars and Stripes Pantograph from Sew Thankful based on the premise that the design would fit my working space and it didn’t look too complicated for a first run. I got my quilt all set up with the frame and machine and impatiently waited for the mail.

This past week (yes the week of flag day) I had my panto, and my quilt and it was time to get down to business. I can confidently say that I am not the smoothest of stitchers and the amount of wiggles in my stars and waves was certainly not what I had hoped for, but its a learning experience right? The ultimate self betrayal was when I realized about half way through that the orientation of my quilt and my pantograph meant that essentially my stars were rather upside down in relation to the flag on my quilt.

Look… I am not too ashamed to show my struggles. I did get a bit better as I got more experience, but this is clearly a quilt best viewed from a few feet away. I decided to finish this one with a folded/rolled over from the backing binding. That border and backing fabric was a bit stiffer since its made with all the stars as a glow in the dark.

I originally thought I might gift this one, but not sure if my quilting is quite up to snuff… so its currently sitting in the craft room to think upon. Overall, I think I’m going to try a simple stipple on the rainy days quilt next. But first I need to get myself some batting as otherwise its a few too many pieces to put together.

There And Back Again

I left off last time with my quilt frame top plate having just arrived and assembled, the imminent start of the next sock madness round, and a fast approaching road trip departure to a memorial. So let’s start where I did… with my first “quilt” set up on the frame to give it a trial run. I chose to try it out on a simple triangle pattern fabric that I planned to use like a cheater quilt. Straight lines are pretty easy with a walking foot, and on the horizontal left to right or right to left, I found the frame just as easy and perhaps even more efficient. However, I struggle with angled lines. With a walking foot I’d have turned my fabric’s orientation and it would have been all straight. But on the frame I was attempting to drive free form at an angle. Some lines turned out more wavy than others. But overall the start to finish on a throw size quilt was significantly shorter and took me about one day.

On my machine I get about six inches of depth before needing to roll up the quilt, which on this fabric was about two triangles high. This seems like a good reasonable amount and I’m eagerly looking forward to the next quilt…. which I think is to be the Bargello flag because July is coming.

In the hats department… we have arrived at June, which will be the sixth hat in the series, so here’s an overview of the first five.

The next round of sock madness happened just after I got my pink quilt off the frame and before I could sew the binding down on the back side. It was an instarsia harlequin single stitch sock, so lots of fiddly tails. Personally I think if you knit a sock pattern that devotes a section to how to manage 17 yarn threads, you can no longer say you are a beginner knitter.

I managed to finish my pair at the charge stop in Clearwater, Minnesota. It was raining. My finished posts are primarily laid out on my seat, and I had to hunch over. The things we do in the spirit of competition! They took me five calendar days, but one of those days I was driving across most of Montana which hardly counts. I sewed the binding on my quilt down and started another pair for my patient husband between rounds from my new magazine subscription.

The next round (still ongoing) started on the 29th with me needing to hand wind up my skein of yarn. They have beaded embroidery embellishment after you finish knitting, and alas after a few delays for me, I am out of the competition, but have managed to get one sock knitted.

But wait! There’s more! (Sorry… couldn’t help myself there) I also managed to finish my big monogamous knitting project and can now reveal it in some of its glory. I managed to finish and bind off right under my auntie’s nose and then found a sneaky place to block it a bit. Honestly I am mildy disappointed I didn’t bring it home to block it again to get the last of the bunched bits flattened out but based on how things have worked out.. I might not have been able to block it for awhile yet and this way she got it as an early birthday surprise.

If you look closely, the new cone is slightly different on the edges, but I am calling that a design element. This is the Tannenzpfen/Fir Cone pattern by Herbert Niebling. Its 405 rounds, and I knit mine on 000 needles and it came out about four feet square-ish.

Whew! That was quite a bit. But there is more coming up this month. I’m debating if I may do at least some of the quilt shop hop this year which is happening this month. And strawberries and raspberries should be ripening for picking soon too. And of course… new month… new hat to knit. Until then… socks, socks, and more socks.

Everything All At Once!

You may remember my last post about how my plans with my quilt frame were being held hostage by some universal clog… well someone snaked the drain because its all happening and its happening now.

Firstly, on my large project I made it another 10 rows and ran out of thread. The shop I bought it from was sold out of that colorway and so I send a couple Ravelry inquiries in search of someone with some left over. I found one amazing soul that has answered the call and it looks like postal tracking will have it here by Thursday. If so… in theory I could possibly meet my June 2nd hopeful deadline… but I will need to find a blocking solution while out of town. So… put that on the maybe list.

So I used the time to play catch up on my Hat of the Month KAL. I had fallen behind in April, which is a beret and honestly it wasn’t really one I was fond of, but was going to just finish it in the spirit of being a KAL person. But somehow along the way, I decided to try something a bit different. The pattern is for a one color hat, but I decided to add a long change contrast to the design and now I kind of love how it turned out! Berets are the one hats I feel I need to block, and the fact you block them on a dinner plate amuses me.

May hat also was finished. Literally while on the way to pick up my Quilt Frame Top Carriage! Yes it finally came in today. I unpacked it and set it and the stitch regulator up, and wound my bobbins for the first quilt top I have planned. I need to sort out some batting, but I am so excited to get started trying out my new toy.

I should mention that end of current Sock Madness round is tomorrow (Wednesday) with next round starting sometime in the near future. I have my second dose of my vaccine and leave for a memorial on Monday. So… not sure how much quilting time I will get in, but with five or so tops to work on there is going to be a lot of practice in the near future!

The Monotony of Monogamy

That title seems ominous, but I assure you its not. Its just a reference that when you are working on a large scale project and you want to finish… you start to just work on that project monogamously and at some points you just want it to be done already because if you look at that yarn and needle combination any longer your brain is going to wither away from the monotony of it. Now that I have teased and explained myself, you would naturally assume I was going to reveal my finished large project. I regret to say no such luck, its a gift so I don’t usually reveal photos until its been given (Though if you check my Ravelry projects you can figure it out). I am past the monotony stage and am now in the panicking about yarn chicken stage and I will show you where I am in that regards. I bought two cones of lace weight for a couple lace projects. Both cones were by weight the same size and a bit of 3300 yards range which I was (at the time) confident would see me through. Well here’s those same two cones just a couple weeks ago at a bit over 80% done:

I am down to my last 25 rows… wish me luck!

Now… the last post I said I ordered a smaller quilt frame and I’ve actually been holding up this post because while the main part of the frame has arrived… I’m still waiting on the last part, which is the carriage top and handles that make it work with my home machine. Maybe by posting about it anyway the cosmic universe will get the nudge it needs to break it free from limbo. So now here’s some photos and details.. and I confess in my eagerness I didn’t do any cleaning up of my craft space so I apologize for the mess.

First up.. let’s talk about working spaces. The space I use for my quilting is a bit multi-use in that my husband and I keep lots of books and as what happens in extra space that’s where sometimes things end up as storage. So I try to get a lot of use out of my space. One of my great finds was the Ikea Norden table I use for a cutting table and general workspace. With the leaves folded up I get a nearly 60 inch workspace, but then if I fold them down its a bit under 13 inches! The gatelegs that hold up each of the leaves is incredibly sturdy too. So my frame space and my cutting space are basically the same, I just fold up my table when I want to use the frame. The only “downside” to my table that I have found is that the drawers are 3 each side so my super long 6×24 ruler doesn’t fit in across the whole length… that would have been perfect!

The frame I chose was the Grace Q-Zone Hoop frame. I chose the Pro version to get the cloth leaders, the upgraded track system and the table inserts for the potential of templates/pantographs. I also ordered a laser and stitch regulator and those two items arrived first a few days before the frame boxes. I ordered through my local sewing machine store because I do try to go local when I can. I was dancing with glee when they called to let me know my frame was in. It came in three boxes labeled 1 of 3, 2 of 3, and 3 of 3 (plus the two accessories in their own box). I used the paper instruction booklet and immediately set to work putting it together myself. And, I honestly find that step important for this frame as the way you assemble and walk through the steps is a basic hands on approach to how you will adjust and use your frame. 90% of assembly can be done solo and the last bit you can do solo if you have something to rest the table end on when you put on the first leg brace (such as a chair) if you don’t have an assembly partner. All of it can be done with the included tools; it does take a couple hours.

Then you get to page 9, the back rail assembly, and the directions point you to page 18 for the carriage top plate assembly and realize those parts didn’t come in those three frame boxes. Now, I have read several reviews so I didn’t panic too much straight away (just enough to be slightly miffed I couldn’t move on to actually using my frame just yet) because a number of reviews mentioned this additional box that shows up a couple days later with those parts. I did call the next day to the sewing shop and confirmed they are expected. Everyone cross our collective fingers. The good news is that as you can see, although the frame is wider front to back than my table, lengthwise its actually a bit shorter. So it fits easily in the space.

Meanwhile, when I’m not knitting the big monotonous monogamy project its speedy Sock Madness. I hoped to be knocked out in the early rounds because end of this month I need to travel to a funeral, but due to my inability to not attempt to be competitive, I’m still in and moving on to round four. So here’s the first three pair, which have encompassed knitting inside out with cables, beads and two color with brioche.

Marching Onward

For this update I am presenting some awkwardly taken photos in handknit hat and scarf, some pretty awesome Sock Madness qualifier socks and a whole laundry basket of quilting plans.

I live in the Pacific Northwest. It rains here. Quite a lot in the Spring and Fall. So much so that last spring at the end of a particularly rainy week, I pulled out of the garage and noticing it was just misting and thought aloud “well at least its not raining.” This means overcast days and also they get pretty short on the winter end of the year, so lots of photos when I finish end up at far less than ideal lighting. So in today’s less than grand photos… I bring you my March hat, knit up in the remnants of my Harvest sweater yarn.

You may recall my sweater was a lovely shade of chestnut brown with splashes of a lovely teal. And while this hat is knit with the exact same yarn, this photo is taken at 9PM in the dark and I was trying to be a bit creative with the mirrors.

Next up, I picked out a deceptively simple garter stitch short row scarf. I started in January with the goal of using up the 90% skein of Cascade worsted and at least one skein of some Liberty Wool I was gifted back far enough I put it in my Ravelry stash in 2013.

I ended up running out of the Cascade and had to sub due to availability of BLACK yarn of all things… and only used one skein of the Liberty Wool, but I love how it hugs the neck and transitions through the color changes. Sadly most of the color changes are hidden behind the fold.

Now that those horrible photos are behind us… onto the Sock Madness Qualifier round! The designer of these beauties is more typically submitting later round socks, last year was the three color Lampropeltis, but she writes in a way that if you just jump in with trust they are clear. I actually chose one of her designs as my third pair ever. My first pair were vanilla stockinette and I thought they were the most boring things ever. My second set was a KAL pair which taught me that socks don’t have to be boring. I mostly avoid boring socks.

And in quilting news; I have placed an order for a smaller frame that should fit my machine for quilting! I decided letting my quilting projects pile up without getting to the actual quilting part was kind of sad. So today I went and bought some backing fabrics for my future quilts and here’s the previews of some future projects. There is also my wedding quilt but no photos of that one yet.

So its sock season… expect more socks and eventually some quilt frame assembly and hopefully some finished quilts!

Getting Ripped

That’s right this post is all about bulking out and… oh no, its about having to fix mistakes, which in sewing involves the seam ripper and I had some ripping adventures on this latest project! You may recall the yellow and green fabric from a post back in January where I finally decided what it was going to become. I picked a pattern called Ruby Reflections in a post holiday sale and while I didn’t have quite enough to do a full pattern, I was able to scale it down one step with what fabric I had (plus a wee bit to supplement the yellow that I was lucky enough to find on ebay) leaving me with what should be enough of the green for the binding so all I need for this one is some backing! But along the way I had one row where I apparently turned the blocks 90 degrees and that one row I seamed together the wrong side so there was plenty of seams to pull apart and redo, but some of the corners seamed together into some practically perfect points.

I’ve discovered that just about the time I’m starting to get that confidence and mental motion of “I’m totally nailing this! I am going to finish this up so fast and nicely!” then here comes reality with a humility check roll. But my determination stat is pretty high so… I’ve finished this quilt top! All 84 blocks in one month and coming out at approximately 67 inches square.

At the end of January I got most of my backing/binding and border fabric for the Rainy Day Quilt, so here’s an updated version of that quilt top. I want to do something a bit fun on the back of this one since its already a bit of a hashed together front.

In the knitting department I finished my first socks of 2021, a pair of Fifteens, which is a warm up pattern for Sock Madness and a celebration of their Fifteenth year! And I completed the February Hat. I did quite a bit of a knitted gift as well, but as per my usual, I don’t post gifts until they are given or under special circumstances.

With Sock Madness starting up next month… expect more socks coming soon! (And the March Hat too!)

Never Give Up

Yesterday I was talking with a good friend about reservations at our respective pools and how it might be a bit easier now because the Resolutioners seem to have already tapered off. Resolutioners are those people that start out their new year with the absolute best intentions. Every year when they show up; I am happy to see them and really hope they stick with their goals. Invariably a few weeks go by and the majority of them stop showing up. While I’m glad that it might be a bit easier to get a reservation, or less sharing of space (in non-Covid times) its a little bit telling about human nature. I can’t say why the first time they didn’t come when they had every intention of doing so because there are so very many reasons. Maybe it was just too early or they overdid the last visit or they had another commitment come up or they missed the alarm. The reason doesn’t matter, but it tends to trip this train of thought that may not even be fully realized but tells our brains that it was ok to skip once, so its ok to skip again.. and again.. and again. OR that if you missed that one time, well then its a complete and utter failure so its best to give up the whole idea.

We have those thoughts in crafting too. Projects that get partially done and then something didn’t go exactly as planned and so we banish it to places we call things like “the naughty pile” with all the glorious good intentions of someday. One of my more recent projects is from the realm of the naughty pile it went on the naughty pile all the way back in 2017! I fell a bit hard for a felted duffle bag that the original is lovely and gradient colored rainbow designs. I went slightly easier with some harvesty multi colors on a denim blue background. Then I felted it.. and I kind of overdid the felting so some of the shaping and stitch definition was lost. Hence.. the naughty pile.

I had already bought all the feet and snaps and handles. I even had a lovely burgundy micro suede type fabric suitable for lining. (That insists on photographing as bright red) Well it only took about 3 years, but I decided having all the materials and not finishing this project was rather high up on the silly scale and finally assembled it into an actual bag. Its a fuzzy felted weekender size duffle that while I probably owe an apology for my failings to the designer is a functional item, and more importantly… is done.

I also test knit a sweater that I am eager to share with everyone once the pattern is published. (ETA some time in March) And my January hat… which based on comments and how the original sizing was turning out I added a half repeat to, but kept the great crown decrease design.

I also finished my borders on my Warmth in our Stars Quilt. I decided to do piano keys with mini-log cabin style corners. I bought backing for it and borders/backing for the raindrops quilt too!

I started a simple scarf but promptly ran out of black worsted yarn (of all things!) but instead of frogging it or naughty piling it… I just bought more yarn.

Speaking of more yarn… the Sock Madness Materials list got posted so it was time for the annual checking in with the fingering weight stash and see if we have enough. I dunno… what do you think?

I managed to sort out a few possible combinations between them and the beads. There is apparently a three color sock and multiple two colors and several scraps and beads. These may be tossed entirely out the window when the pattern actually comes out but here’s a few of my current ideas that may come to a post near you.

Planning ahead for 2021

I really enjoyed planning last years stash buster project but to be perfectly fair, there were individual times when a project seemed too big or too small based on what else was going on that month and overall I didn’t get my two long term WIP finished that I had in my goals. Also I am partially feeling the itch of the more fabric than fiber side of things at the moment. So I am going to do a Year of Hats KAL and use up some of my kind of lonely worsted skeins, and I have planned to participate in Sock Madness again. But its also time to finish up those two projects from 2018 that have lingered for far too long.

On the quilting front I have a number of tops mostly or completely done that I would like to finish up and also there is this fabric which I’ve finally decided what to do with

I somehow ended up at one point doing this thing TWICE mind you, where I bought two coordinating fabrics one green and one yellow and had plans for something that never happened and thus they have lingered in my fabric stash. Well I’ve finally sorted out what to do with them and… check back for that in the hopefully soon department.