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.

Back on top!

Boy I have really fallen behind on updating.  Not quite as far behind as I am on finishing my wedding quilt since we’ve been married now for four years, but still…

Speaking of wedding quilt… mistakes were definitely made, but the top itself is now DONE!  I’ve actually completed all four of the quilt tops for my four quilts goal this year!  I need to get backing for two, piece the backing for the other two then sandwich and do the actual quilting bits… but there is absolutely progress happening.

The wedding quilt is certainly far from perfect.  I adapted a block from The Quilter’s Cache called a posy chain.  Between signers getting into the seams and my poor measuring the points leave a lot to be desired and based on how things were coming together I decided to add the smaller flowers into the chain in order to space the main blocks out and help hide how the main blocks would have met together. It turned out to be about a queen sized quilt.  The three on the left are all throw sized.  The top one does have an additional border now, and was an experiment in learning how to paper piece.  The middle was also a quilt and my lesson on how to sew curved seams.

And speaking of tops, I also managed to finish my second sweater this year, which is also the 2 of 4 for the Neighborhood Fiber Co 2017-2018 sweater club.  (The first being the Waterfall cardigan)  This design is Nutmeg Ginger by Alicia Plummer which I picked because I wanted a bit of texture but not so much to lose the rich chestnut and cool teal from my yarn.

This was actually a project where unlike my photo poses, I attempted to be a full grown knitter and actually alternate skeins as they suggest you do with hand dyed yarn.  Usually I just eyeball and give it a close enough shrug and it works out, but this time I could tell that the balls had some distinct differences. One of the 4 balls was more muted in the chestnut and one ball had larger bits of teal than the others.  So I started out working the hem in one of the true chestnut balls, then swapped to an every other row with the more muted ball through the body and into the texture area.  I used the larger teals ball for the texture and collar.   Here is a close up of my swatch and a comparison of the two balls so you can see why I decided to go that route.

Now I just need to finish up the fingering weight (pattern selected) and navy lace weight (still undecided) before the next sweater club rolls around so I can justify my yarn expenses.  (HA! HA!)

So let’s round up all the other projects I managed to squeak out since the last time we updated… such as the 2 pair of matching anniversary socks, a replacement market bag, a pair of sideways knit zig-zaggy brown socks and a pair of very orange socks (to go with the very orange shawl I presume).  Whew!

Currently on the needles.. the second sock of a pair for Ben, and a very large, very lace project I am doing on 000 needles.

 

Bad decisions and more socks

So the Finished project I am featuring today took me nearly a year to complete and not a single bit of it was the fault of the pattern.  So let’s just jump in to how I made some poor decisions that still ended up looking amazing!

I found this amazing flame orange tonal yarn with gold sparkle thread in it at the yarn stores sales bin (yes, I am still thrifty).  There were two skeins; one perfectly presentable and one more of a loose almost tangle. It was color saturation love.  Check this out:

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Inspired by the gold I decided the ideal choice was finding some solid gold colored beads.  I looked high and low and there were lots of options in semi-transparent golden beads and I bought some but still…. this needed the solid gold bling and I went online and found some metal seed beads and based on the listed hole dimension I thought they were roughly a 6/0 bead.  They were not.  They were more like an 8/0 bead and that made putting them on a heavier than fingering weight yarn was a significant challenge… as in get out your beading pliers and pull your wired yarn loop through the hole at times challenging.  So when I found I’d made a mistake in a beaded row… the project spent some time in the WIP pile to think about what it had done.  I mean really?!

On the plus side when I did go back to restart my project I had apparently forgotten that before I put it in time out, I’d apparently pulled back the bad row and so I didn’t have to do that when I restarted.  YAY!

But wait!  There is more.  Beads are sold by weight and so what I thought was a reasonable quantity based on my prior experience buying glass seed beads turned out to be about 3+ times as many as I actually needed, and so in eyeballing the bind off options… I liked the bubbled version and figured I had enough beads I might as well bead my bubbled bind off.  Of course I forgot all about how long picot style bind offs actually take and so by the end of day one binding off I was rather far more ready to be done than actually done!  So without further ado… here’s some beauty shots of my version of Bubbles and Baubles which based on the color I called Pele’s Bauble.

And yes.. I did say there were more socks.  Which is the round three from Sock Madness pair (yes I was out but I finished these before Round Four pattern showed up so its a win in my book) and my between rounds Günter from the Op-Art socks book. I’m now at pair 5 of the 19 patterns completed.

Toasting Time

Having looked back through my email order confirmations…. I ordered this quilt kit back in November of 2016.  Its just 36 blocks, so it really shouldn’t take nearly 36 months but… that’s how time goes I guess, I did get my blocks finished and assembled so now its just a border and backing.

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On the plus side it was bought to learn paper piecing and well I can say I have learned how and its not my favorite.  Though some of that may be due to choices I made.  For example, you can buy lighter specialty papers for copying your blocks.  I just used a copy machine and ye ole standard A4 letter size.  My main issue though is it feels wasteful.  The quantity and size of scraps using this technique seems large and then there is all the paper.  Which at least I can recycle the paper once I get it all off, which is my next project step.

For fun… here’s the backside with the papers and the original design layout the quilt came with.  I inverted the light and dark sides to come up with my layout.

In other news Sock Madness has been a bit rocky going this year.  In Round Two I made a rather major mistake in chart reading and though I did manage to squeak into Round Three there was much family related travel and so I was out.  Now its just knitting for the fun of it.  I’m half finished with my next pair and its the start of the yarn tour so… signs are pointing towards more yarn in the near future.  But I really DO need to finish a few of these quilts!

Tale of a Mom

Once upon a time there was a little girl whose mother passed away when she was just a bit older than 3.  Her mother was kind, and an experienced sewist and embroiderer, novice quilter and sometime knitter.  She taught her little girl all the nursery rhymes as she embroidered them onto quilt squares for her best friends son.  When she was ill, she sent home jelly packets from the hospital for her children’s peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.  And later, when she passed, various people put things away in an effort of safekeeping them for some time later down the road when the little girl would grow older and appreciate them.

I was that little girl.  This past month, I have been focused on helping my mother-in-law with some things going on in her life and right there in the middle of it my grandmother sent me a package.  It was a pretty decent sized box and most of its contents were things from my mother.  There are dolls, and their clothes cut out on the pattern pieces but not yet assembled.  There are vintage quilting magazines with barely the spine broken in.  There are older cork and spring embroidery hoops.  But perhaps the most sentimental of all, there are her knitting needles, her cut out quilt block pieces and her pencil drawn embroidery layouts with notes taken on what colors to use.

Now a couple of these really stand out to me.  The embroidery designs are actually quite similar in theme to a plan that has only gotten to background fabric bought for my own floral embroidery quilt plans.  I am not planning to copy hers and see where it goes from there.

Secondly, my own baby quilt was a cheater fabric quilt of reds and blues and is now at the so fragile of fabric stages you don’t wash it, just hang it outside from time to time or keep it stored away.  There had been a few murmurs at times that my mother was planning a different quilt for me, and I have to wonder… are those 21 purple butterfly wings meant for me?

And that is how moms, and grandmoms too keep looking after their little ones even on into their 40s.

P.S. I did finish the qualifier and round one of Sock Madness also but this post is just for my Mom and you will have to wait for sock pictures!