Keep Busy and Keep Going

Sometimes the best you can do is to just keep moving in the general direction of where you want to end up.  Then the next thing you notice you are already well on your way to a pile of stuff that somehow managed to get done.

I attempted to start my latest finished shawl on our holiday road trip.  And while its well written its spread across a few charts and as someone that sometimes has eyes wander in a chart, it was put on hold.  But I’m happy to say my first project with Stellina (aka sparkles) is complete.

The pattern is called Weirwood Tree. I suppose a more dedicated knitter than I would have knit it up in white and then hand dye-painted each leaf that burgundy/magenta of its namesake.

Also on the knitting front, its approaching Sock Madness time, and yet I managed to plan out extra socks to make, and even finished a pair for Ben, who has since decided he actually likes hand knit socks.  And I churned out a brioche cowl for a KAL this month too.

And last but not least I said I wanted to make 5 quilts this year… so I managed to put together another quilt top (I have the backing and binding fabric for this already)

Yes, it is a Christmas Throw Quilt.  No, I don’t have plans for it other than to make it. The design is called a Four Patch Lattice and goes together rather quickly.

Next Up: Expect a bunch more socks, Maybe a sweater, and I should probably get around to quilting one of these quilts…..

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And to top it off…

Its not even the official middle of January and I’ve already got my first top together!  Believe it or not, the majority of the fabric was purchased back in June of 2015 specifically for this quilt idea and then it only took about a week to actually assemble.

Guest Quilt Top

The idea was hatched from a quilt someone posted from I believe Quiltcon 2014, but the bookmarked link I had is now defunct and I can’t seem to find it again.   So if you think it was you and would like the credit you deserve (or just to tell me how unoriginal I am) then drop me a line!

On the knitting front I’ve put together a couple new variations on my market bags, one with a seamless handle design and one a mosaic style to use up some partial cotton balls from the stash.

And then I frogged and restarted a new lace shawl based on the Weirwood Tree pattern. I first started this on the holiday road trip but its a less simplistic lace design which needs a bit more attention.  After getting home with a proper knit companion, its been progressing along. I’m throwing in a few photos I took from the trip (I wasn’t driving at the time) too.

Hope your new year is also producing some good progress too!

Hollywood Socks: Fixing it in Post Production

Ok, so you may recall that I made a nice set of beaded socks for Sock Madness that were a bit too long in the foot for me. Well during Sock Madness there are specific rules per pattern to help ensure that at least everyone knits a standard requirement.  For me, that meant my sock feet were too big. So technically they were finished, but then I needed to re-finish to make them wearable.

Mad About the Gals original finish

Mad About the Gals original finish

I did realize that my socks were going to be too long so I did put a stitch marker at more appropriate measured row for starting my toes and did not weave in my yarn tails, just tucked the toe yarn inside the sock.  So the first step was to un-kitchener the toe.

Here you can see my marker for the earlier toe transition point and I've unworked the kitchener stitches.

Here you can see my marker for the earlier toe transition point and I’ve unworked the kitchener stitches.

Since I have quite a bit to frog back, I decided to just pull back like one would frog the entire item, but by keeping a handle on how fast and far I was pulling, be able to re-pick up my live stitches at or around the row I’d marked.

Once you have your stitches picked up again, you just use your directions to re-knit them to the correct length.  Here’s a photo of the first sock re-completed stacked on top of the other sock in the original finish so you can see the foot length difference.

Sorry about the lighting... I was working on these while taking a drive to Oregon.

Sorry about the lighting… I was working on these while taking a drive to Oregon.

After you have finished the first, then you work the second just the same.

It was a beautiful day for a drive.  I still have some green toes, but not as much and the socks fit.. which was the most important part.

It was a beautiful day for a drive. I still have some green toes, but not as much and the socks fit.. which was the most important part.

In semi-related news.  I also finished my second Woodruff Sock, which is my first colorwork sock.  They are a bit roomy, but not too big I think if I were to knit them all over again I’d probably go down a needle size, but we shall see after the first real wear and block.  Here’s some beauty shots.

Don’t Panic! (Its supposed to look that way)

So I decided to refresh the site a bit as I head into year five.  (Can’t believe I’ve been at this for so long.)  So I hope everyone likes the blue, and if not then you can look forward to the next update in say… 4.75 years or so.

Nearly finished photo.

Nearly finished photo.

In other news, when I visited my Grandmother this year she tried to explain how its hard to find a cute winter hat, perhaps one with flowers.  So as a knitter…. I got right to work.  The first one is a slouchy hat with a flower on the side, and I thought being kind of festive I’d use up some more blingy fluff and sparkle style yarn from my stash.

While I did take a actual finished photo, with the skies getting pretty dark by 4PM the lighting on this one is a bit better.  Unfortunately at this point I decided it probably wasn’t really my grandmother’s style.   Thankfully, a friend was visiting about the time this photo was taken and proclaimed she really liked it, so guess who got a totally not a surprise, but I wrapped it anyway gift?  [HINT:  This amazing person right here!]

Fresh off the needles, one hat with flowers

Fresh off the needles, one hat with flowers

So back to square one on the hat front, but I am one of these people that seems to collect patterns around an idea, so naturally I didn’t have just ONE hat with flower(s) to choose from.  So I picked another and some yarn and forged ahead.  This pattern was super fast to knit and simple, yet a nice design.

Hopefully its the hat with flowers type that she will enjoy and wear.

In other knitted gifts, I made a colorwork shawl for another friend.  The pattern is called Unalakleet.

The actual drape is a bit of a capelet, and it is a real test of tension work as its done as stranded knit and purl.  Which makes the backside appear to somewhat mirror the front, but is all done with loops of yarn carried across.

There is just one more gift on my list I’m finishing up, but you and that giftee will just have to wait and see!

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!

How to Invoke the Fairies, and my Beautiful Brioche Shawl

First of all…. I need to tell you I finished my  Brioche 2 color shawl that I posted the yarn for earlier…. and its so nice I’m going to give it a proper size photo.

Just like my climbing Hydrangea... its wearing the colors of both Spring and Fall leaves.

Just like my climbing Hydrangea… its wearing the colors of both Spring and Fall.

This is a pattern I fell completely in love with when I first saw it called Under Dutch Skies.  I decided that I would need to learn to brioche, just so I could make one of my own.   I started it towards the end of the Ravellnic Games with the hopes I might complete it.  But as the deadline got closer and closer I started to push myself and made more mistakes… primarily with my leaf spine counts.

As you can see here, in rows prior I did my increase in the wrong spine  instead of the center.

As you can see here, in rows prior I did my increase in the wrong right side stitch instead of the center stitch.

Once you’ve made that mistake well… its not one I was able to tick back and then work up correctly so thank goodness for lifelines, but it still meant frogging several rows.  I wasn’t going to make it to seven leaf repeats in time to finish… so it was finally time to take a real break and get the shawl out of my head for awhile.  This also freed me to make an additional leaf repeat.  I was so excited when I got to the binding off.

I realized as I was laying it out to block, that I’d made a mistake earlier on, and I’d just never found it.  Now here’s the thing about knitting mistakes.  They are kind of like looking at yourself.  When you look at yourself and your own knitting you find all the things you wish were better.  Maybe we wish we were thinner, or maybe we wish our hair looked better or that there is less of it in some places and more of it in others, and we can get focused in on all the things that aren’t just right. (My stitches are uneven, I twisted that one stitch wrong, etc) But when you take a step back and you look at the whole picture like someone else does…. both you and your knitting are so much better than you think.

So I’ve given you hints now go right ahead… find my mistake.

Not so obvious until you find it....

Not so obvious until you find it….  Feel free to click on the photo until you get it in a larger size too!

Now the reason for that whole exercise is that sometimes when we gift or sell our handcrafted items we feel this compulsion to point out those mistakes.  There is no need.  Its a gorgeous thing worth of praise WITH its minor imperfections.

Now perhaps you have some eagle eye friends and family or over time they find its special unique “feature” and feel compelled to point them out to you.   You can respond to this in a few ways, but here’s my favorite two.

  1. This is an identification feature.  It proves that this item is unique and should it be lost or stolen you could correctly identify yours, even if someone else made the same item with the same yarn.
  2. Invoke the fairies.

 

That’s right… invoke the fairies by looking that person straight in the eye and letting them know that you had to leave a mistake in the item.  Fairies like to steal and take things that are perfect, and after all this friend/family member was already so incredible you felt that if you gave them an absolutely perfect knit item, the fairies might feel compelled to take them away.  (Thus making your imperfection into a very high compliment!) 

Let the Games Begin!… and then End!

If you are a knitter with Olympic fever you may have heard of the Ravellenic Games.  If not, well then here’s the scoop.  During the Olympics, there is a group over on Ravelry, that encourages you to challenge yourself and knit during the time of the Olympics.  Apparently there may be pixel medals involved.  (You can see all the projects here.)

So in an effort to be a bit more involved in the social nature of crafting, I thought I’d take up the challenge.

I started out with another 2 color brioche project, because I wanted something in between my “epic Brioche project” and the simpleness of the Seattle Brioche Scarf.  I didn’t want a super big project though… so I picked one that took less than 200 yards and finally frogged the cut off tails of my Luscious Sweater.

The pattern is called Rodekool, which is Dutch for Red Cabbage

The pattern is Rodekool, which is Dutch for Red Cabbage

Challenges in this project included, increases and decreases in two color brioche, learning the Italian Cast On method, and maybe, though I can’t quite be certain I got it right.. the Italian bind off.

Based on the yarns original project, I call mine Luscious Cabbages

Based on the yarns origins, I call mine Luscious Cabbages

I actually still have yarn bits left, so I might try to work out a hat to go with this one at some point in the future.  Mostly though its the lighter Tidepool heather color.

The second challenge is right out of my list of ideas for 2014:  Gloves

Right hand thumb and Index  include Conductive thread additions for use with a smart phone or tablet.

Right hand thumb and Index include conductive thread additions for use with a smart phone or tablet.

I went for fairly simple pattern, because I already had some superwash wool in worsted left from my Debora Counterpane.  I didn’t find them too hard, but I know some knitters find the fingers to be rather fiddly bits they don’t enjoy.  Its such a widespread opinion, that out of the 718 entries in the Mittens and Gloves category, there are only 14 that are gloves with fingers!  Everything else is fingerless or mittens.

Part of the reason I took a break from the 2 color brioche was the keyhole scarf  was more challenging than I expected, it was a “2 swears” project.  Which overall is a bit unusual for me.  The whole reason I wanted to learn how to brioche in the first place was for the project I cast on next…..  a two color brioche leafy shawl.

This too, had a different style start, and different increases and decreases.  So I thought I should start with an oversized swatch to see how it went.

Size 10 needles and worsted aught to do it...

Size 10 needles and worsted ought to do it…

Now I wasn’t paying enough attention to how long I had to finish, so I didn’t technically get finished with my shawl in time to “qualify” for the games.  In actual fact, its still on my needles.  So I’m going to save the shawl for another post once its completed.  But I will leave you with a photo of the yarns I picked out.

Colorways are Paradise Valley and La Cantante in Mithril (laceweight) from The Verdant Gryphon.

Colorways are Paradise Valley and La Cantante in Mithril (laceweight) from The Verdant Gryphon.

PS – if you click that link in the last caption and find yourself falling in love with the yarn and want/need a referral code be sure to let me know either in the comments or via the email on my About me page!

Block and Load!

So I really liked the yarn I used for my Spring Thaw Shawls, (which was Paton’s Lace btw) although with the mohair it does have a bit of a halo that may not be ideal for all designs, and its a bit more crabby about any frogging.

Since it had worked out so nicely, I bought some more in other colors.  A simpler repeat pattern lace shawl is actually an ok trip project since you only have to pack a skein or two to work the whole project.  Whilst I was on holiday I started up a Vernal Equinox Surprise Shawl, and based on its name I decided to go with the “Sachet” color way, which is white and sage and plum.

I cast off on the 5th.  The thing with lace is it benefits incredibly by blocking, but non-knitters or newer knitters don’t always see how you got to pile of yarn fluff to the more nice looking lace.  So I’m going to start out this post with an unblocked photo.

Taken at night with poor lighting.

Taken at night with poor lighting.

Issues of lighting aside, it does look like a lace shawl, not super lacy but its not something repulsive either.  And then you block it.

For the record, it is an overcast rainy day, but the lighting is better.

For the record, it is an overcast rainy day.

And it goes from this textured ripply shawl, to a true lace shawl.  And like the Grinch’s heart, it can grow a few sizes too.  You does not need to be super fancy pants to achieve a good block, though to be honest it may help; I don’t know.  I just use towels and Sewing Pins and sometimes a few bits of old school acrylic yarn in the case where the edge is super loopy like this one.  The yarn is my blocking wire that stretches the loops out evenly so I don’t have to pin every single loop out.

There are several different types of lace repeats in this shawl

There are several different lace repeats in this shawl

This shawl was a bit difficult for me to finish… not because of the pattern, but because I wasn’t really making it with a giftee in mind and started to have good ideas about what I wanted to do with some of that Alpaca yarn I just got.

I didn't even finish trimming my cast on tail before this photo.... ¬.¬

I did not even finish trimming my cast on tail before taking this photo…. ¬.¬

But I don’t like to leave too many projects undone, so I finished it up, and it shall be folded up nicely to await the perfect person for it to go to.

That's right... I can fold half circle lace shawls AND fitted sheets.

I can fold half circle lace shawls AND fitted sheets.

Knitting with recipient in mind is a huge motivator for me, but sometimes you find you need to use your yarn and just knit something, and in the long run it seems to work out alright.

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?

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.