Getting Ready to Go Mad

Sock Madness is coming up right around the corner and I’m signed up again.  I made it into Round 6 last year.  So in anticipation, I’ve sorted out some yarn options for the Madness and spent a portion of the other day turning hanks into balls.

This year I also decided to put together a few prizes for the Madness, so I put together some notion bags and fabric boxes with working button holes so you can use them like a yarn bowl if that’s your jam.

The bag tutorial can be found here, and the fabric boxes here.  My only alteration was to add working button holes to the boxes instead of just decorative buttons.

row_by_row_quilt_small

I bought my zippers and buttons at Pacific Fabrics and picked up the rest of their Row by Row kits to make a nice PNW quilt. (Can there be more hours in the day?) That’s what it will eventually look like there on the left.

Sometimes I feel like the quilting side of things tends to fall behind… and if I want to get my goal of seven quilts this year I’m going to have to kick over into quilt-ville after the Madness. Today I put in the first six days of February of my 365 day challenge.

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And before I forget…. I did finish my KAL shawl!  Its the latest in my bird themed ones.  This one is based on the local Stellar’s Jays with their blue and black.

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Birdwatching Shawl: The Lady Cardinal

It seems that knitting is so often inspired by Mother Nature, be it leaves, or flowers, and even birds.  Which being someone that likes to feed the birds and plant flowers.. this appeals to me. And so when I saw the Dreambird pattern, I knew just the person I wanted to make it for, and just the colors I wanted to make it in.  The pattern design is a bit bold, just like the impossible to miss Northern Cardinal.

Female Cardinals are one of the few singing Lady Songbirds.

Female Cardinals are one of the few singing Lady Songbirds.

However, I felt this would be a good chance to continue in my “Lady Birds” shawls I started with my Gamayun Evening Grosbeak Shawl.  I did need to bit of looking to find the right yarn colorations as I wanted some tonal changes, like the change in feathers.  Truthfully, we don’t get Northern Cardinals in Washington State, but they are very memorable as one of the birds I first learned about when I started birdwatching.

My "bird" perched on the heather and rockwork in my front yard.

My “bird” perched on the heather and rockwork in my front yard.

This pattern is rather different, its shaped entirely with the use of short rows and was a great lesson in the German Short Row technique.  It does use binding off and casting on at various places, so that the overall point of view is the wing of a bird, pinyons outstretched as it takes to flight. Since its mostly garter stitch, this is actually a pattern that difficulty-wise would be fine for a beginner; however, there is one caveat to that opinion.  The author of the pattern probably gives too much information in the full directions.  The intent is that you get the idea behind the design concept as you knit along.  The full directions are certainly worth reading, to get the technique if its new to you, and to pick up the pro-tips like how many stitches to carry your yarn along the backside when you change, but after the first feather or two, there is a simpler single page row by row count directions you will probably use most of the time.

Climbing Hydrangeas - the bird perch-able shawl model.

Climbing Hydrangeas – the bird perch-able shawl model.

Heading into Charted Waters with my Evening Grosbeak Gamayun Shawl

So a few posts ago, I was talking about my troubles with my Gamayun Bird Shawl and even before that I was posting about the planning of it to have a colorway similar to the Evening Grosbeak female birds we get here, because I find their grey and yellow to be rather lovely.

I am ready to say that I finally finished my shawl!

Normally I post inside, but today was just too nice of a day to not get my bird in the sun!

Normally I post inside pictures, but today was just too nice of a day to not get my bird in the sun!

This was the first charted lace knit project I’ve ever tried.  And so I made one kind of major mistake… I read the chart left to right, as I would read a book or a cross stitch chart.  But in actuality, knit charts are supposed to be knit right to left, the opposite way.    Now I was fortunate in that this is a fairly symmetrical pattern so when I discovered my error as I was about to forge onto chart three… I was able to read stitches and adjust my pattern to turn out and not frog back for the bazzillionth time.

Here’s a bit of an indoor close up:

Mirror, Mirror Gamayun on the Wall

Mirror, Mirror Gamayun on the Wall

So technically speaking this is a mirror version of the pattern, but I have this rule that if you can look at it with the eyes of someone that didn’t knit it and it and the issue is not noticeable, then you should just chalk it up to the field of “one of a kind” and not a mistake of epic proportions.

This pattern did give me a good opportunity to use life lines (which are a separate contrast yarn you thread through your rows every so often in case you have to frog back some so you don’t drop any of those stitches) which I am certain I will use when I take on the task of fixing the Luscious sweater.  (No, its not fixed yet.  Be patient… its my second sweater ever and I’m spending quite a bit of time figuring out the best way to fix it with my limited skill.)

Uh, we had a slight knitting malfunction, but uh… we’re fine….finally updating on the Sweater and Travel knits

So last post I was saying how I was going to probably not finish my Luscious sweater in time… but I will have you know that dedication and several seasons of TV episodes will certainly take you pretty far.  I actually finished all the pieces to my sweater, and was starting to assemble on the 13th.

So stylish!

woohoo!  Look at how cool it is looking!

I am not a tall person.  I come in at just under 5ft 5in.  And after assembling the main drape, I tested out the size and it seemed rather long.  But ever the optimist… I hoped that it would just be a little long and some of that would be corrected in the rest of the assembly.  So I added in the sleeve section and tried it on again.  The tail on me would be dragging on the floor.

......*sigh*.......

……*sigh*…….

Could it be that I was just too short?  I pinned up the side drape…. and nope… it was just the right length.  There is about a foot of difference between the two points.  So needless to say… I didn’t take my sweater on vacation.  So now I am working on garnering up the internal fortitude and creativity in an effort to try and fix it.   As to what went wrong… well I can’t be certain, since I consider myself a more intermediate knitter.  This is after all my second sweater.  My theory, which is based solely on the errors I have found (first two were confirmed by the company that published the pattern – the remaining errors I have still to submit and figured I would collect them all in one email at the end) is that this sweater was not test knit in the larger sizes, and the issue lies someplace in that particular area.   The details of my issues you can read about on this projects Ravelry page.

And so… I did say I was setting it aside while I was traveling and going to work on a shawl, and learn the art of chart reading anyway… right?

About that……. well starting a lace chart project at 3AM at the airport is probably not the wisest idea.  I should have learned from the myriad of times I picked up and put down the Branching Out portions of the Family Tree Baby Blanket while on various flights.  But no… I cast on and got to the second row of the chart and found I’d already made a mistake someplace.  So in Amsterdam I frogged those few rows and cast on again.  And I knit the first 14 rows between there and here right after we got back with our jet lag brain.

But in review… it looks like I have a mistake someplace.  The first section feather points look all nice and pointy:

Kind of a terrible picture... but you get the idea here.

Kind of a terrible picture… but you get the idea here.

But when you get into the second section something has gone clearly awry… my feather points look like a pair of dutch-boy pantaloons.

Seriously?!  ¬.¬

Seriously?! ¬.¬

So its kinda looking like a second frogging.  (For those not in the knitting know… its called frogging because you “Rip-it” out.)  Which brings us to a new joke I heard while in Amsterdam….  You shouldn’t try to explain puns to kleptomaniacs.  They take things literally.

I will see myself out….

Taking Flight: Knitting for the birds and airplanes

So let’s say you find yourself in the enviable position of taking a vacation to foreign lands, and you find yourself facing a 5 hour flight followed by an 8 hour flight.  And somewhere down the line of trip planning you decide that a fair portion of that 13+ transit hours could be spent knitting… and then you wonder about if they even allow knitting needles on flights.

Well first let me say that if you live in the US, the TSA has given the knitting needle OK; however, cutting implements are a whole other matter.  But when one is planning an international trip, one has to consider the other countries… and that’s where it becomes a little more of a “maybe” situation.  You can send your project off in a self addressed envelope if they turn your needles away, but if you’ve just spent a month knitting up half a sweater the idea you might find yourself waiting for the postman for the other half just doesn’t sound like a good time.*

So while I had high hopes when I started of actually wearing my Luscious Sweater on this trip, its time to admit that the project will need to wait until I return.

I did finish up the main drape section!

I did finish up the main drape section!

So now its time to pull out some back up plans.  A project that won’t be too big so it only takes a couple balls… yet big enough to keep you occupied for several hours on a plane and during vacation down time.  My solution… a shawl or two!

 ~ And thus we come to the bird portion of our knitting blog. ~

Not that long ago I was thinking to myself that it would be pretty amazing to have some bird colored yarn.  The Stellar’s Jay Vibrant Blue and Black, the Kingfisher’s Teal and Rust… or the Female Evening Grosbeak:

Evening Grosbeaks are primarily monogamous, so Fellas if you like it you better put a chirp on it.

Evening Grosbeaks are primarily monogamous, so Fellas if you like it you better put a chirp on it.

I am hoping that this Rock Candy Colorway by Sockease will do the trick.

Oh oh Oh!

Oh oh Oh!

And my plan is to make it into a shawl called Gamayun Bird out of it.   Since I’m a bit of an optimist in my knitting (hence the unfinished aforementioned sweater) I also bought some other lace yarn for another potential project… but you will have to wait until I cast that on for an update.

The Grosbeak males are a much more vivid yellow.

The Grosbeak males are a much more vivid yellow.

 

*All that stuff about the Postman… well let’s be honest, earlier this month we received an envelope with no stamp, no return address, and the wrong zipcode.  The vast majority of the time they certainly get it right!

What to expect in 2013

Well last year I set myself the goal of one Christmas stocking a month from January to October and it went pretty well.  I sold a few of the stockings, and hopefully someone will take advantage of this coupon code “InWithTheNew” and save themselves 25% on those I have left in the etsy shop!

So this year  I thought it might be good to set myself some of those crafty goals again… so here’s what I know I want to do in 2013:

I’ve accepted a commission on 18 itty bitty red birds for one of my aunts Christmas Trees.  The pattern is available on ravelry, my only difference is that instead of yarn I used size 5 DMC floss on what I think are my size 00 knitting needles (I swear I thought I was going to bend those things as I was going along!)

This tree soon to be populated with a flock of red birds

This tree soon to be populated with a flock of red birds

I’d also like to tackle my first sweaters.  I want to make one for myself and one for Ben.  For him, I’ve picked out my pattern… and its aptly named… Ben!

I'm gonna make a Ben for my Ben so he can Ben in his Ben!

I’m gonna make a Ben for my Ben so he can be Ben in his Ben!

On the Quilting front, I’ve picked fabric and cut for my first square on the grand King sized Quilt I want to make for our bed:

I picked up a couple of these Jelly Rolls at the Labor Day Sale and then did the math on downscaling some star blocks to fit the roll cuts

I picked up a couple of these Jelly Rolls at the Labor Day Sale and then did the math on downscaling some star blocks to fit the roll cuts

This is my first Block cut and just starting to piece.

This is my first Block cut and just starting to piece.

Because its going to be so big, my plan is to piece it and then take a class and quilt it on a long arm machine at one of the local(ish) quilt shops!   If you want to follow along, just as in prior cases… there is an album started for this one.

And lastly, but certainly not least… I want to start making gloves and mittens in a similar style to last years stockings.   Which means lots of fiddling until I find what works best in that arena.

So… Wish me luck!