2015 Recap

So its that time of year when I take a moment to see how things went in the past year. And looking back this year its looking pretty good.

In 2014, I didn’t finish any quilts, and I set a goal in 2015 to finish seven. Well, I finished five.

I did work a bit on some others and hatched a few more plans for quilts, but this brings my completed total to twelve.

I knit over 14,000 yards and I did indeed focus on my stash, some shawls with beads and on socks. I eliminated one of the three overflow stash boxes entirely!

I knit twice as many socks last year as I had in all my knitting time prior!

I did a bit more lace work, with over 3000 beads.  This included my wedding shawl in my own dyed yarn and some never wilting hair flowers.

And I even designed a bit with two patterns published, my hairpin flowers and one project that needs another run through to refine.

So now I’m sitting here feeling like I did SO much last year and wondering just how much I can get done in the coming year.

Presenting some presents

So a few weeks ago I posted a few teasers about some of my holiday projects.  And now that they are finally in the hands of their new owners… It’s time to give them their due.

First up is a project I mentioned over two years ago when I bought the pattern at the 2014 shop hop. Once the post wedding frenzy had calmed down a bit I realized that holidays were coming a bit sooner than a crafter hopes for, and in sorting out my gifting plans, landed on top with a hope that if I really worked on it, I just might finish in time.

*drumroll*

My redwork winter embroidery quilt!

IMG_20151201_125015

My embroidery blocks are stitched onto several white/off white on white/offwhite Prints. Various trees, snowflakes and swirls. The remainders and scraps of which got paired with some red prints in a scrappy sampler style border. You can see pinwheels, churn dash, shoo fly and Dutchman’s puzzle blocks in there.

For the back, I chose to piece in three blocks, including one for my gift tag, that I hope looked a bit like some falling flakes.

IMG_20151201_125005

Here’s a few detail shots.  There are also several WIP photos in the WIP gallery. 

The recipient called me up to tell me she cried when she opened it… so time well spent!

Secondly… I finished up my Super Mario QAL quilt without Ben being aware I was working on it since my last post about it.  Got it wrapped and took it with us to open on Christmas Morning.

IMG_20151214_120627

I had three more blocks and some custom printed level fabric for the back side.

IMG_20151214_120706

He also got a knit lego man and a pair of socks that he picked out the yarn for, and promptly wore on the first day of our return trip home.

Which is probably why I am now double knitting him a lace weight single ply Hobbit scarf.  Which I managed to get through the first chart of 11 (8o our of 810 rows!)

KNITWITS-APP-IMG_20151227_105358

Get Wrecked! Wreck Yourself Cowl Pattern

The Wreck Yourself Cowl pattern is now live on Rav and on the patterns page!  You will also see that I have added the option for you to purchase direct off my site if you aren’t into the Ravelry scene.  (Though as a knitter… its a pretty amazing scene to be in)

And since you may need both patterns to use up that one skein, I’m offering a discount if you buy both the Check Yourself and the Wreck Yourself Cowl patterns.  Just use the coupon code CheckedBeforeWrecked and it will take $2 (USD) off the total.  Its like buy one, get one for half price.  And if that sounds too complex well… just click here and it will do the whole add patterns and coupons directly for you.  Woohoo!

IMG_20151104_072230

Cowl Before Me!

ManosEvery so often I take a minute after a project and before the next to physically go through my yarn stash. Since I’ve been stash busting, its also a good way to see what singles, partials and just plain kind of special cases of yarn need to find a use.  My last venture started out with some thrifted Manos del Uruguay Classica (Price tag is from the stashkeeper before me). This is a thick/thin single ply yarn that is kettle dyed in some lovely colors and which I ended up with just a bit better than 2 non-matching skeins. The skein on the right looked like a good match to one of the half a ball colors left over from my original stitch block cowl, so that was my jumping in point.

So I started out and was knitting along and after a few inches into the cowl project it became apparent to me that there wasn’t enough variation between the two colors, so back into the stash to come up with a better plan.  And eventually I came out with what I am calling the “Check Yourself Cowl” (This photo taken while it was blocking.)

Check Yourself

I was quite pleased and had taken pretty good notes, so I sent the pattern off to another knitter as a test knit and with a bit of luck this pattern will be available soon.  There was just one problem.  I still had half a skein of the original Manos.  So with that… I knit up a slightly different pattern, this one showcasing the Classica as the foreground yarn.  (Again photoed while blocking)

This one I guess I’m calling the “Wreck Yourself Cowl”.  Not just because you should “check yourself before you wreck yourself”, but also because if you’ve ever accidentally dropped a stitch the concept of dropping 30 or so stitches that you want to pick up later is a little mentally challenging, even when the actual stitches aren’t that complex. This pattern needs a bit more refining before its ready to be test knit. Which is ok with me since I like the design even if I am not typically a cowl wearer.

And with that, here’s a few sisters in skein cowl shots:

Winding my way into 2015

So what kinds of things have I got planned for 2015?  Well aside from the painting inside the house projects… I do have some ideas for things more in line with my knit and quilt blog.

First up… a confession.  I have a lot of yarn.  I knit over 5 miles last year… it was a drop in the proverbial bucket.

Stash Part 1

Stash Part 1

This is my primary stash.  This is my nicer yarn, stuff I really enjoy working with. The left side has a bin full of sock and lace weights, (which overflows into the bags you see on the floor in front when I’m honest and not just cramming them in on top -.-)  and a bin full of plant based yarns (cottons and bamboo blends).  The right two bins are both worsted weight.

The secondary stash

The secondary stash

But wait!  There’s more!  There is also a box of wool, and another box plus tote of acrylics hanging out in the closet.  And that giant skein of cashmere lace in a project bag.

So clearly my first order of business is to do a bit of a stash down.  Working on nothing but “Cold Sheep” for the next 3 months, with options to renew.   Cold Sheep is where you do not buy new yarn for a set period…. like cold turkey only for knitters.

I’ve actually done a decent job of cataloguing my stash over on Ravelry (in case you want to see the particulars of what’s in the bins) and started to queue projects specifically to my stash.  I have not yet found the perfect cardigan for one of the two sweater quantities of yarn, but do expect to see something cardigan with cables in the future.  I am going to allow myself to buy notions such as beads and buttons, and patterns.   I will get a new skein every month from my Tipsy Sheep yarn club, but technically that was paid for in 2014 so its not really cheating…. right?

I am going to knit up my salal dyed yarn this year, and I’m revisiting a designer who had the misfortune of being my first charted pattern, so I mucked it up pretty well, lets see if I’m ready to tackle a new chart and even more beads this time.  I am also planning a shawl for the gorgeous lace that my secret santa included as part of my gift. (You can see my thanks hereand there is still an outstanding Jay bird shawl… all three lace with beads.

In addition to the sweater and lace with beads, I also have some socks planned.  Starting with some yarn from the last round of yarn club, and proceeding through a pair of hanks in some colorwork socks!

Which brings us to the quilting homefront.  I absolutely, positively, beyond a shadow of any doubt, want to do the shop hop by bus again this year.  That’s in June.  I had so much fun in 2014, I am looking forward to it again. So I am definitely going to need to focus on my progress quilt bin so that I have room.  Mario, Chess, and Star Trek are pretty decently along and just need a bit more finishing.  Movies and Stars are progressing, but still in the early stages.  Tesla and Embroidered Snowmen are not yet begun, although some of the materials have been purchased.  That’s a total of seven quilts I am aiming for this year.

Whew! That thinking about all the things I want to work on this year has me already a bit overwhelmed.  Good thing they aren’t all due in February!  There is just one last thing; I am planning to get some projects ready with no intended recipient.  I am considering adding a page of finished objects that will be open for offers.  I’m still hashing out the details but I will be sure to post when/if it comes to pass.

How did I do? (Year in Review)

In 2014, I knit at least 9320 yards, that’s over 5 miles of yarn!

The last thing coming off my needles was a Checked Rose Stitch Cowl experiment, finished Dec 30th.

 

IMG_20141231_160918

 

This is a two color stitch worked with the same two yarns, just switching which yarn is the dominant yarn part way through.

Looking at the rest of my Ideas list from January and adding up all the things I’ve done this past year;

  •  I did not knit up my alpaca yarn.  I did manage some design work, but thus far I’ve not been happy enough with the results.
  • I DID make my first gloves, followed by my first fingerless, and first TWO sets of mittens.
  • I DID tackle my second socks, and the third pair, and even a fourth!
  • While I didn’t work on the Stellar’s Jay shawl, I did start and finish 6 shawls this year.
  • Four of the Six Quilts I was planning did get some work done, but I actually did not finish a single quilt.  The only Quilting thing I finished were some pillow cases.  I am still working on Mario!
  • I totally tackled brioche stitch too!
  • I published 2 new patterns and even dyed some yarn using local berries.

So here’s a visual overview.  Included you will find one rather fuzzy bear that was the secret gift I mentioned earlier.

 

I tackled a milestone on the blog front too.  There was exactly one day when this site was not visited by anyone, not even a robot.  So I want to thank all of you (even the robots) for making me feel so awesome every morning.

So now I be you are wondering what is next. I am going to save all that for a later post in the next few days, as this post is now very long and full of photos already.

And the Trees are striped Bare, of all they wear…

You may recall a few posts back I mentioned getting some amazing 100% bamboo yarn in my last exchange.  Well my yarn Santa sent me not only the two skeins of bamboo, but a great hank of Hazle Knits sock yarn in Song Sparrow, AND a stunning pattern for a maple leaf shawl from my patterns wishlist.  Which btw… I should mention that my Santa this swap was actually my rematch giftee from an earlier yarn swap!  (If you are reading this then…. Thank you a billion times!)

So naturally I got out my birthday gift from Ben… which was a fabulous set of interchangeable needles. and got right to work on making my Maple Leaf.

This leaf fell a bit earlier in the year.

This leaf fell a bit earlier in the year.

I absolutely loved the pattern and color combination, but I will say I was a bit worried because of how drapey the project was knitting up that it wouldn’t hold its shape so well during blocking.  But I am very happy to report that a simple wet block and laid out flat was just right.  It has quite a bit of drape to it, but it holds the leaf shape very well.

Now the one thing I can say about this pattern to be aware of, is that it has a large number of ends to weave in. Now that being a somewhat subjective determination, I did count and can give you a comparison.  For your average knit item its 2 ends per skein per separate piece.  So for a single skein shawl, such as this one… 2 ends would be typical.  I counted my ends as I weaved them in this morning… and came up with a total of 50!  You have roughly 2 ends per point on your leaf.  So this would not be a great travel project where you may find yourself without aide of yarn cutting implements.  *cough*TSA*cough*

But overall I loved the project… AND! I still have a whole skein left of this great Bamboo and another skein of sock yarn in Song Sparrow by Hazle Knits from this exchange!  Woohoo!

Since it was a great day… I couldn’t resist taking a beauty shot of my maple leaf out on the maple tree…. so I’ll leave you all with that.

PS - The title is from October by U2

PS – The title is from October by U2

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.

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!

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.