The 32 days of January

No, that’s not a typo in the title. As I mentioned in my last post, I signed up for a 365 block-a-day quilt.  The designer of which offered two blocks for the first of January, one for the beginners and one for the more advanced.  Well I decided having an extra block might be nice for the grand scheme of things so I made up both.

So while I am still a couple weeks behind (which considering I didn’t sign up until the 22nd of January is closer to caught up than where I started!), I am now able to show all my January blocks.  These are all finished size 3 inch blocks (so 3.5 inches unfinished)

IMG_20160212_162455

As for the knitting front… Its getting closer to time to gear up for Sock Madness, so I’m working my WIP and knocking out my February/March KAL shawl early so I can be prepared to knit all the things!

Here’s a few teasers of knits yet to come!

These Goldfishes are so Delicious!

Ok so yes.. I love the Goldfish crackers that inspired the title.  (Its my go-to snack for road trips.)  During the 2014 Shop Hop I picked up some adorable goldfish fabric which I then set out to decide how to use.  I came across this design that used some of the same fabric in combination with some small pieces and appliqué and it all snowballed from there. So today… I’m bringing out my Goldfish Bargello Quilt, fresh out of a run through the wash after I finished binding.

goldfishes front

Front Side

Back Side

Back Side

I’d never tried a Bargello, but a tutorial on the tube method looked simple enough to give it a whirl. I tried to get a wee bit creative with my quilting on this one, and let’s just leave it at… I still need some practice.  But it was a fun experiment all around and I think it turned out pretty darn cute.

Experienced Level, Beads and Knitting with Novelty

Apparently September was just one of those months where you are doing just so many things that finding time to photograph your knitting and update your blog just wasn’t going to happen.  If you really must know.. there was spaghetti sauce being made, and rooms being painted, and the buying and selling of cars happening… and yes, through it all there was knitting.

So first up… let’s chat about novelty yarn.  Its one of those things that seems to change over time and finds itself marketed to a new knitter or learning to knit knitter, and then as you learn and grow your skill you don’t need fur and ruffles to hide your stitches and suddenly its the bane of your yarn stash.  So in my latest round of stash assessment, I was a bit taken aback by the quantity of fur and other bits that “seemed like a good idea at the time” and went on a quest to find something to make with it.  And I’m happy to report that the Suzy the Cuddlebunny pattern, is a pretty quick  and simple knit that turns out rather well.

Looking for somebunny to snuggle.

Looking for somebunny to snuggle.

I made mine with a flecked fur and an acrylic held double for all the body parts, and just a plain acrylic for the inner ear. The body was deemed “so soft and snuggly” but the test snuggler, so I think, FuzzyWuzzy here will find a good home this holiday season.

Which brings me to the experienced portion of this post.  At some point in the learning of a skill you may find yourself confronted with determining your skill level.  Are you still a beginner?  Comfortable calling yourself Intermediate? What do you feel about “experienced”?  Its kind of intimidating, but here’s the deal with knitting… if you can’t figure it out, or you screw it up beyond all hope… you can just frog it back to your source material.

For me, this bit of bravery involved a pair of socks labeled as experienced level.  Someone else had posted their finished pair and they were marvelous…. so even though it was only my third pair of feet wearable socks… let’s go for it!

Socks of Grand Experience

Socks of Grand Experience

This pattern relies on twisted stitches, where you knit into the back loops of the stitches instead of the front of the loop at points. The bottom of the feet is flat stockinette, but the pattern then picks up from the base of the foot and wraps around the heel and up the leg.

Second Sock Syndrome.... it was hard but I managed to overcome it!

Second Sock Syndrome…. it was hard but I managed to overcome it!

So… what’s an “experienced” knitter to do, but finally tackle using beads.  So here’s a vary patriotic themed Fabergé shawl for one of my aunts.

Thankfully the autumn rains gave me a photo op break.

Thankfully the autumn rains gave me a photo op break.

I really like how the eyelet section is worked to make the stitches look mirrored from the center spine.

I especially like how the top eyelet section is worked to make the stitches look mirrored from the center spine.  Beading is surprisingly less complicated then you would think.

 

So there you have it… the month of September.    Now onto all the holiday knitting… which should include a new pattern revolving around gifting canned goods, some mittens both as gifts and as my first mystery knit-a-long. (yep, I’m finally giving up the “but what if I don’t like it?!” worry on this one.) And more quilting… because I’m falling way behind on my Super Mario QAL project.

 PS – I am totally wearing those socks right now!

Colorworkin’ it! (And some Berries to Dye for)

Ok so the KAL challenge this month was colorwork, and to make it more interesting it was a dueling KAL of a cowl or some fingerless mittens.  I couldn’t decide which project I wanted to commit to, so another member told me I was joining the mitts team.  (Sometimes its rather caring to be bossed around and out of your indecision.)

Well here’s the thing… I was born in a state where you get snow; as in build snow forts and snow men, make snow angels, and generally freeze yourself in the cold, but its all ok because there is cocoa.  The concept of an item of hand wear that doesn’t cover ones fingers just does not fit into my brain on a very logical level.  However, I do have a friend that has expressed an interest in such a silly (to me) item of clothing, AND even in the subject matter upon which the pattern was based (See: Agents of SHIELD, sub catagory: villians – Hydra) and so…

Right in your super-powered keester!

Right in your super-powered keester!

These are made using what is called stranded colorwork.  You carry the non-working color along in loops called floats on the wrong side of your work.

But…. in my fit of indecision and due to the size of the yarn in my stash… I decided to also tackle the cowl, because it had interesting looking stitches. the cowl is knit as one piece with three different stitch patterns, all of which use the knit into the stitch below technique.

Cowling on a rock

Cowling on a rock

There were some amazing color choices from the group, and a few people adapted their cowl stitches to work for hats and scarves.  I went with a color group that I’m hoping will match a pair of mittens I want to knit up for a holiday gift… we shall see.

And now onto the berries portion.  I considered making this a separate post, but I didn’t want to pester anyone who actually is being notified of updates with multiple notifications.

Around these here parts (the Pacific Northwest) we have wild plants called salal (Gaultheria shallon). And about this time of year, they grow dark berries, which I had heard in my quest to first identify the plant were edible.  So this year, surrounded by the myriad of berries, I decided to try them out.

Now, first disclaimer here… Salal berries are not true berries, but is actually from the sepal of the flower, and thus is considered an accessory fruit.  (apples, pears and pineapples are also considered accessory fruit) So what I discovered when I was boiling out the juice was that the berry remains were actually very much still a dark coloration, and still giving off an enormous amount of dark liquid.  So… in the spirit of “this main stain” as a yarn person and not as the laundry lady, I decided to see how it would come out in yarn.

First up, I tried it out on some plain white 100% cotton:

And then because it didn’t turn out like a car wreck… with wool:

So there is my first go at dying something… using the most free ingredients, hand picked from around the yard.  (Is Free Range Dye a thing?).  Not sure it is a vibrant enough dye job to make people jump for joy and throw money at it, but it was something to try and now I do have plans for at least some of this yarn already… so stay tuned!

And one more thing…. my giftee finished her Nyan Cowl, and made some amazing mods to the pattern!

The Seams of the Many, outweigh the Seams of the Few

Just in case I am not the only beginner in the room… I thought I’d take a moment to talk about lining up your seams.  Now there are people that are quilting perfectionists that can be rather passionate about seams and be a little bit more judgmental about such things; I am not even going to get into that.  I will say if you are starting out and you have one of those moments where you just aren’t feeling very perfect, I’ve been there.  You will get better.

So here’s a tip about how to lineup your seams that works well for me.  Its called “Nesting your seams.”  When you are ready to join two seamed pieces, you will want to iron one section so the seams lay facing one direction, and the other piece where you want the seams to match up so they are going in the other direction.  So that as you line up your pieces, and give them a little finger wiggle, the seams but right up next to each other in a bit of an X formation.

Like so:

I'm holding the seam a bit open here so you can see how they come together.

I’m holding the seam a bit open here so you can see how they come together.

And here's what it looks like when its closed, as it would be for seaming.

And here’s what it looks like when its closed, as it would be going into your machine.

Now for me, the best results come from having the seam that is folded away from your body to be on top as you feed it into the machine, and the seam on the bottom is folded towards you.  This way you can guide that top layer under the foot and your machine feed is going in the direction of the fabric.  It doesn’t always work out that way, but if you have the option when you are ironing and pinning, aim for that on the more difficult seams you have on your project.

I do tend to pin across my seams.  I am a pin person.  I see videos of people that do not use pins and they amaze me... but I am not one of those people, and I'm ok with that.

I do tend to pin across my seams. I am a pin person. I see videos of people that do not use pins and they amaze me… but I am not one of those people, and I’m ok with that.

Now when you unpin and unfold your seams they should match up pretty well.

TA-DA!

TA-DA!

Now, since I have teased you with a title and reference photos, it seems only fair that I share a photo of the latest Star Trek quilt top!  This one is a lap/crib size quilt done in a very large disappearing 9-patch style.

I waste no time in using up some of my Shop Hop fabrics!

I waste no time in using up some of my Shop Hop fabrics!

Originally this was to be a commissioned quilt piece, but its not looking like that will be the case at this point.  So once I pick out backing and quilt it… it will probably go up in the shop.

The Good, The Bad and the Brioche!

The Good

Thus far this month, I’ve tackled a few smaller quilting projects.  One of which started out as a simple conversion of a bedskirt into a set of valances for Dale (of the Sunflower Dresden quilt fame).  But then I had fabric left, and if you do any kind of scrappy quilting that you can’t let so much as a perfectly good 2 inches of fabric go to waste, let alone any amount larger than that!

So I made a normal pillow case, trimmed in “valance plaid” and then I had more fabric so I made a few quilt block decorative pillows too.

Three pillowcase fronts.

Three pillowcase fronts.

The blue and yellow floral is new, but the dark blue and yellow are scraps from her sunflower quilt, the light blue from my first quilt.  Both smaller pillows are backed in her “valance plaid” to help tie the whole ensemble together. The inside pillow forms were made from some of the plain white that was a part of the bedskirt.  So all told I bought a yard of fabric, and ended up with 3 pillows, 3 valances and I still have a smidgen left.

Smaller pillow features my first ever button holes on my sewing machine too!

Smaller pillow features my first ever button holes on my sewing machine too!

The Bad

First off, I decided to join in a Quilt Along (QAL) with an online group.  (Details here) Now the joining wasn’t the bad part; its probably more of the good part since I don’t belong to a quilting guild or tend to get very social with my knitting and quilting.  But… the shop was out of the recommended interfacing, and the line was forming behind me at the cutting counter so in the words of the third knight in the Temple at the Canyon of the Crescent Moon, I chose poorly.  I chose a non-fusible/non-sticky kind, and its too narrow to do a whole block at a time.  I am attempting to forge ahead with some spray adhesive to see if I can make it work.  Thus far I’ve laid out the first block:

Here's a photo while I was waiting for the adhesive to dry.  You can see where I will need to seam the two sections together.

Here’s a photo while I was waiting for the adhesive to dry. You can see where I will need to seam the two sections together.

Like most of my quilt projects, I tend to take several cell phone photos of it as a work in progress and post them in an album.  Which you can check out here.  Wish me luck!  I might just need it.

In other mixed good/bad news, I did forge ahead with three more stars on my giant star quilt.  I am not super thrilled with how some of the points came out, and was feeling kinda crummy about it.  I do think the later pillow project actually helped, as it has similar cuts and came together very well.

A Green and two blues

A Green and two blues

The Brioche!

A while back I fell in love with a certain pattern for a shawl on Ravelry that uses Brioche stitch.  So this year I told myself I was going to learn.  And with the help of some left over Seahawk Action Green, I started with a nice beginner brioche scarf.

Brioche doesn't look like it has a wrong side.  Just a side of a different color.

Brioche doesn’t look like it has a wrong side. Just a side of a different color.

And so just before the Seahawks finished up with the 49ers, I finished up with my Brioche Scarf!

The tails are done in single color.

The tails are done in single color.

Now I just need to find the yarn I want for the shawl project and I’m all set.  I’m looking for a spring green  for one color and autumn spice for the other.

There are no Resolutions in this post, only ideas.

I don’t really make New Years Resolutions… more because people seem to think its a great thing to think of and then don’t take them all that seriously.  So I always have ideas and things I want to do and I do list them out as goals.  In 2012 it was a new Christmas Stocking each month from January to October with a goal on selling them.  I exceeded that plan in the crafting department, but I wish I’d done a bit better in the selling.  In 2013 it was sweaters, gloves, and working on my Star Quilt.

Well I did get the Sweaters part done… I made 3 this year.

I didn’t get any gloves made and the only mittens were for a 6 month old which didn’t really have separate thumb holes so I am not counting them towards the original goal, and not much work on my star quilt so those will just have to move into 2014.

Instead I tackled some lace shawls.

And doubled the amount of quilts I’ve made with four more. (BONUS: A Christmas gift of a quilted table set that I designed and hand appliquéd)

I also made up some great plushies, custom curtains and finished my first ever double knit scarf… so there was certainly quite a bit going on in 2013.

So now its time to think about all I want to achieve in 2014….

I have six quilts on my list this year!

  • A movie inspired gift quilt (lap size)
  • An Art Quilt (3-4ft square) Inspired by one of Ben’s favorite Artists
  • A Commissioned Baby Quilt
  • My Star Quilt (Back again! – King size)
  • A Christmas Cathedral Window Quilt
  • An as yet to be determined 2nd quilt for the family room.  Ben loves our VideoGame quilt, but thinks there should be a second quilt, because after all there are two of us.

In the knitting front I’ve got some other unique projects planned.

  • A Scarf and Shawl from my wonderful new Alpaca yarn!  I’m debating making my own patterns for these, but we shall see!
  • Gloves are still on the list!  I’ve already got the conductive thread to make them Smart Phone capable!
  • I’m going to tackle a second pair of socks.  I think with my skills I’ve worked on I might be able to do some patterns that won’t make me so bored by sock #2 (aka Second Sock Syndrome)
  • I’ve got a few more shawls planned.  Including one bird inspired based on the Stellars Jay
These Jays from the PNW are vibrant Blue and Black!

These Jays from the PNW are vibrant Blue and Black!

  •  I’d also like to tackle Brioche stitch as a new stitch this year.  Perhaps I’ll use up my “Action Green” from the Seahawks Stocking on that.

So its a bit of a list looking at it all at once… but if I can tackle 3 sweaters, 4 quilts and learning so much about lace in a year… I out to have a good start on some of these… RIGHT?

The Stockings were Hung….

This morning I woke up a good hour early, and rolled over to peek out the window to gauge the time and…. snow!  Like a good inch or so, there was snow on the ground and the tree branches.  I was so excited I couldn’t go back to sleep!  I love snow… so much that relatives several states away will call to tell me when they get their first snows of the season.

But we were on stockings.  Ben and I have stockings… we hang ours on the knobs of the china hutch.  Its not that we don’t have a fireplace, with mantle, but we don’t have those stocking hooks… and frankly the way I try to stuff them its probably good that I can pull out the drawer below for added stability sometimes!

While I did not make quite so many stockings this year, Ben and I signed up for the Redditgifts Secret Santa Exchange this year and I knew I wanted to give our giftees some custom Christmas Stockings full of holiday cheer.

My giftee collects vintage hand fans.  So I thought a modified Grandmother’s fan design would be appreciated.

Stuffed so full I couldn't even fit that last gift in!

Stuffed so full I couldn’t even fit that last gift in!

Ben’s giftee really liked the Seattle Seahawks, which means I know have half a skein of “Action Green” yarn in my stash:

The Hawks are doing pretty good this year!  Up to 12-2

The Hawks are doing pretty good this year! Up to 12-2

And I did indeed make sure to put 12 feathers on the heel and cuff….

The back of the Hawk's stocking featuring the rest of the wrap around design.

The back of the Hawk’s stocking featuring the rest of the wrap around design.

I do hope they like all their gifts, and as with the last gift exchange,  (Which was Star Trek in case you forgot!) I will update this post with any response from our giftees.

Meanwhile, my Santa was really quite on the ball… she has already sent me a great new knitting book called Woodland Knits.

Thanks again my Santa!

Thanks again my Santa!

There are some adorable patterns in there to give me lots of ideas in the new year.  I say the new year because this week I was all about a pair of commissioned custom StarCraft2 Scarves.  And I’ve cast on the second of my sleeves on my Spoke Sweater.  So between the housekeeping and cookie making and early Christmas having…. I am knitting like a made fiend to see if I can’t get it done to wear Christmas Day.  

Here’s a quick preview of the main body so you can see how far along I am:

Just needs some seaming, sleeves and a good blocking!

Just needs some seaming, sleeves and a good blocking!

UPDATE!  My Secret Santa Giftee received and liked her gifts!

And so did Ben’s Giftee (who posted a whole album – click the title)  Ben also posted what he received here.

Post-Op: A Luscious Sweater Story

Way back in April I cast on my Luscious Sweater.  It is all knit on size 2 needles in fingering weight yarn and its pretty much all stockinette… which meant lots and lots of pretty repetitive knitting.   At first I had high hopes that I would have my sweater done by my trip in June.

There were errors in the pattern.  Simple stuff that honestly felt like the pattern needed just a bit more proofing, but I was only the second person on Ravelry to cast on, and the other person hadn’t posted updates since they started, so I was determined to keep on.   (For the record, the first two errors I verified with the pattern publisher, but after that I decided to save them up for one email at the end.  I did post every issue I had on my project page.  I believe that most of my issue came from stitching the non-standard larger size.)

Day before I leave on my trip and I’m casting off my last piece and blocking… spirits are high!  I’m seaming up the other pieces because I am totally going to have this for my trip!

And then.. I pin the last piece in place and discover….. the two tails,  do not line up.

So disappointed

So disappointed

And this isn’t a minor off by a few rows, made a small error no one else will notice issue… this is a one side falls at the knee.. and the other side drags on the floor.

So I set it aside and went on my trip and it was an INCREDIBLE time.

And I came back and I pondered and plotted and wondered if it was possible to fix this train wreck or should I just frog it… all 13 balls of yarn.

In the end.. I decided to fix it.

I threaded some 10 weight crochet thread through my main drape section from the side seam to the exterior as a life line:

Its called a life line for a reason!

Prepare the patient for surgery

I carefully un stitched the long side seam of the main drape:

Preparing the patient for surgery

How “Unseaming” !

And then…. I cut off the first tail of the drape….

Post scissor application

Post scissor application

I carefully picked up every stitch along my row and set out to knit again!  I started out with an additional set of short rows, because I wanted to make sure that the drape tapered a bit more towards the knee.  (I’m not certain I actually needed to do this… it just felt like I should and at this point… the sweater was unwearable so what’s the harm of trying imo.)  My thought was that the issue was that the taper of the main drape wasn’t at a sharp enough angle, so I increased my decreases by half again.  I’d left my shorter side drape pinned in place so I had a comparison for length to aim for.   I got to the end of the new tail of the drape and laid the sweater out for comparison.

The measure here is lined up with the new tail and the side drape point.

The measure here is lined up with the new tail and the side drape point.

It looked to be significantly closer in alignment than the original!  I knew since my side drape was just pinned at this point, that I could adjust that piece as well, and so this looked to be markedly successful!  So I got out my scissors and amputated the other side of the drape tail.  I followed the same basic directions of short row set followed by increased decreases.  I did lay out my sweater repeatedly to check if I was on-target for matching.

So after stitching a new front tail… I re-seamed my long seam, and stitched down the side drape and….

SUCCESS!

SUCCESS!

It is absolutely much more symmetrical!

Now… I am a little bit uncertain how I feel about this sweater, but I’m not sure if that’s the taint of the earlier disappointment or something else.  I’m wearing it today… and we shall see.  Here’s some wearing photos so you can see the fit.

Show in standard Misscarlotta not-quite-focus

Show in standard Misscarlotta not-quite-focus

And the other side:

Front knee is slightly bent.

Front knee is slightly bent.

So there you have it… the final results of Doctah Knittah!

As a side note… I am so very glad this wasn’t my first sweater and that Ben’s Ben was so successful, because as I look at future knitting projects, prior results make a huge impact.  I haven’t yet made a second pair of socks… because the first pair was so dang boring on sock #2.

A Sunflower State Retirement Frame of Mind

I have been holding onto this post for over a week… and all the in progress photos too… because I am a secret agent quilter spy!  (Or at least that’s what I tell myself.)  For my 7th finished quilt, I wanted to celebrate an amazing woman, Ben’s mom, Dale.  (For bonus geek points, she is named after Dale Arden, Flash Gordon’s girlfriend.)

Dale has been working for the past 28.7 years with the Kansas State Department of Education.  And so round about mid-August I found a great tutorial on making Dresden Plate Quilts online that made me feel full of confidence that a Sunflower State retiree could actually have a sunflower Dresden quilt.  So off I went to get a Dresden ruler and my fabric palette.

I actually had the brown fabrics already.

I actually had the brown fabrics already.

And for the front of the quilt I made up 9 sunflower blocks.  Mine were 17 inch blocks, which sounds like a weird number, but actually with the borders came out to a nice 60 inch square lap quilt.

And here the front is.. in all its sunny glory!

And here the front is.. in all its sunny glory!

Now here’s why the spy parts come in…. I decided that this should be a secret project, but I wanted to tie in her work with the quilt… so I called her boss (ok I got the assistant to her boss) who patched me through to another co-worker that became my agent on the inside.  She hooked me up with a fine selection of photos, which I added to the back of the quilt.

This is also a good view to see how I did my quilting lines!

This is also a good view to see how I did my quilting lines!

The picture rail on the back brought the yellows and the blue from the front to the back.. and then a small pip on the front, brought some of the backing yellow forward.

I did get a bit lucky in places where I quilted through the picture rail.

I did get a bit lucky in places where I quilted through the picture rail.

I used the same basic method for making the center circles that is illustrated in the tutorial I linked above, to make the leaves on my itty bitty Dresden Quilt tag on the back:

With some creative folding presentation, front of a single square, and the tag got a highlight too!

With some creative folding presentation, front of a single square, and the tag got a highlight too!

I really do need to thank my agent on the inside.  The quilt was mailed on Monday, with expectation of arriving Friday in time for the party they were having.  For whatever reason on Monday I was thinking was an after work thing, and after a few more conversations… realized it was more after lunch in timing.  So the two of us were eyeballing that online tracking like it was overtime of the Super Bowl.  And then… it ticked over from “Out for Delivery” to “The Receiver’s location was closed on the 1st delivery attempt. A 2nd delivery attempt will be made.”  But my Agent on the inside (name withheld because she’s a secret agent… duh!) went above and beyond to drive out and meet the truck and take delivery.  I shall formally file a commendation in her agent personnel file.

Flower Power!

Flower Power!

And now for some technical specs, because as a newer quilter (this is number 7) I find them helpful.  I used up nearly all of my 1/4 yard of each of the yellow petals fabrics, of which I picked out seven different variations.  True 1/4 yards, not fat quarters there.  I also used up 1/2 yard of the dark green in just the lattice work on the front, not including the border. I had originally thought I would do 18-20 inch squares, so I had some blue left over of the 2.5 yards I bought.

Additional Photos in the progress gallery here.