July and August did Happen.

I am once again behind on updating my blog. Sometimes it honestly feels like I am getting nothing done. Which when I go to put together a post, is clearly not true.

So first up, I participated in my second quilt block swap. This time it was groups of 16. I have just 15 blocks and am awaiting the last one, so this photo are the blocks I sent out. Its a log cabin design with a central red square. It was a great use of remnants from prior quilts in there. You will see my goldfish bargello, my guest quilt and a few other throw backs in you look close.

On the knitting front, I’ve knit up a few pairs of socks and the first of my Christmas gifts, a Santa’s Laundry Line. Yes, I am behind on some gifts while ahead on others. Its just how my brain goes in random directions sometimes I think.

I have managed to get more done on my 365 quilt. As of this morning I’m at July 11th. Which means I could add my light border, but I’m waiting until I finish all of July. There are 32 total blocks including the birthday cake block because my birthday was that month.

Lastly, here is a preview of an advent tree I am making as a gift. The Tree itself is based on a dresden plate type design. Which I am knitting a number of ornaments to hang on it.

This is just laid out flat with lights and button baubles laying on it to give myself an idea of how its coming together. The plan is to tuck the battery pack into a pocket on the backside an thread the light cord through with a button hole behind the tree itself. I have started ornaments, mostly just to get an idea of sizing for my pocket presents that should sit under the tree.

Top Grows and Warm Toes

So first up, the top for my 365 quilt has grown not just in blocks made, but I finally was able to do some assembly with the post April blocks. Which made it look like this:

End of April assembly (96 dark blue blocks, 4 lighter corners, 4 lighter borders, 1 center medallion)

The very end of April, all of May and June are dedicated primarily to lighter 6 inch blocks which will then join for border around this section. I did manage to complete my May blocks, and then laid them out around the sides to get an idea of how it is growing. The hardest part here is explaining over and over to some inquiries that, yes I have completed over 100 blocks, but I also have over 200 blocks left to go. I am going to be at this awhile, and no, I’m not close to done yet.

I might be a bit further along, but its also been Sock Madness Season, and I made it all the way into the penultimate round this year! This year, I experienced my first stacked stitches and steeked designs.

Learning new techniques is one of the main reasons I participate in Sock Madness each year. Socks are a nice small scale project with a wide range of potential building techniques. I may not always adore every design, but its at least going to turn out something useful. And as usual, by the end of Sock Madness it gives me design ideas.

Lastly, I joined in my first quilt block swap. For this swap everyone made 12 Jacob’s Ladder Quilt blocks and mailed 11 of them off to their group members. This alone would make a more lap quilt sized blanket, but if you add some other blocks, then you can build a bigger quilt. Here’s my blocks I have to make a top out of:

Socks and Borders

A regular reader may know that now is the time of Sock Madness… a time of knitting socks as fast as you can for nothing more than bragging rights, skills building and overflowing sock drawers. I am once again playing, though after being rather unkind to my left shoulder this past winter, its now being unkind back to me and so I am trying to rest between rounds. I am apparently not very good at the resting it part. So first up a gallery of socks, including my own warm up pair made for Ben of green and rainbows, the qualifier that I affectionately named “Lisa Frank barfed in my shoes“, the sparkly Elven jewelry socks of round 1, and Sock Pockets! of round 2 (none of which are their real names but if you click on the links they do take you to the real pattern pages on Rav)

I have just barely managed to keep up with the date of my 365 quilt blocks as of today, if not for the fact that I am several years behind. April starts out with the 4 long narrow borders that go around the center medallion followed by the 4 corner blocks. At which point its then back to small dark squares but at the end of April you can assemble the center with its borders and the first dark border so that’s certainly something to look forward to.

And in other quilting news… another local quilter reached out to share a photo of what the full 2006 block of the month quilt was intended to look like and also gave me her extra fabric from her hard work! So that project is now firmly somewhere on the To-Do List of Quilting!

I also participated in my first quilt block swap this past month, and got all my blocks mailed out and several of my swapee blocks are starting to roll in. This was organized on r/quiltingblockswap on reddit and this time around was a Jacob’s Ladder pattern. I have a couple ideas floating around for final layout, but something for another update.

Now back to… not knitting ¬.¬

Not so Out with the Old

I am making progress on my 365 day quilt of 2016. I’ve completed February and I’m half way through March at this point. If I make it into April I can actually start putting some of the top together, that is when I get to some of the center borders (center was the end of February prize) and enough dark tiny squares for the first dark round.

February blocks

I did manage to get some knitting in, and finished the sleeves of my Twisty Sweater and got it all seamed. I took some liberties with the pattern, Shifting Rib Pullover – Vogue. I made my back start with the same tulip hem as the front and continued the central spine cable. I also went for long sleeves as its an aran weight sweater and short sleeves didn’t seem to match as much for me, so I made them long and added one center cable all the way down each sleeve. Please excuse the lighting on a few of these photos. I am still not so great at selfies.

Lastly I squeezed in a pair of socks that I just finished this morning, and registered for the coming Sock Madness, though I am not certain exactly how that will pan out with all the other things happening right now. Wish me luck! And feel free to jump in if you want to try it out.

Feeling a little like the March Hare

I realize I have been skipping several months over the past year, but usually I am on the ball come January and my goals, but this year, well its already 11 days in and finally here I come waltzing in.

First a brief recap of last year and why it was so much chaos. There have been significant changes in our family, in particular with my husband’s parents. His father passed; his mother is now living with us; and I was the lead on helping deal with their home in Kansas needing to be cleaned out of the 46 years of semi-hoarding accumulation. My craft supplies storage space shrank significantly and has had to be re-organized quite a bit. But hopefully things will not be so massively crazy in 2022. (Everyone collectively cross their fingers)

I did manage to finish the year of hats KAL, and even pulled off a sweater made of cotton for my husband in November. (which I may have just shrank a bit in the wash yesterday, so again.. cross your fingers). Then mid-December I pulled a muscle in my shoulder after finishing the back of my twisty sweater I am knitting myself and well… I have maybe 4 inches of one sleeve done since then. My green and yellow quilt is on the frame, but I am not super thrilled with how the first couple passes look so I’m debating ripping those out or not.

So let’s look ahead to what I want to get done in 2022. Obviously I want to finish the twisty sweater. its currently taunting me in its sleeveless state. I’d like to use up more stash, specifically in the scrap fingering weight department, so I am hoping to knit one of my Lotus Feasting on Scraps blanket pieces each month. I am also looking at my quilting stash and decided this is the year I work on the rest of the blocks for the 365 day quilt challenge that I started all the way back in January 2016. I am up to 38 squares, which means 327 more to go! I also acquired at some point some 2005 and 2006 Block of the Month blocks from a local quilt shop. Two of which were completed, so I’d like to finish those up and make them into something and liberate those from my stash too.

Mostly I just hope for some good sunshine and craft time in the coming year, and hopefully things will settle down again.

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!

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.