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.

2020 Hindsight

Like how could I not use that title for my recap post. I am as I frequently am.. rather behind on my blog posts. It has been a not great year, but then I think that’s also true for a number of people. Though all the home time did mean I finished or moved along several crafting projects.

On the quilting front I did pretty good. I’ve discovered I greatly enjoy the piecing part more than the quilting part though. I found a backing for my Anniversary quilt top, Quilted my Contours kit, Made a Rainy quilt top, a Patriotic Bargello Flag top, and coming in hot of the machine a Warmth in our Stars is just needing some borders.

Obviously I kept knitting… I did finish all of my Stash busting projects which included four sweaters! My November one was a lace weight lace cardigan and means I finished out my Neighborhood Fiber Company Sweater club from 2017 yarns. I finished 20 pairs of socks! And managed to squeeze in 3 scarves, 2 hats a pair of mittens and a shawl! I knit over 14,506 yards which is well over 8 miles!

In retrospect with it all laid out its a bit impressive. Just the same I’d rather have had more sunshine and less craft time.

I”ll be back soon (I hope!) for my plans that are still brewing for 2021.

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.

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.

umbrellas and boots

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. 🙂

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.