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.

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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.

Shop Hopping for Fabric and Fun

I got myself out to the Western Washington Quilt Shop Hop the past few days.  Its actually my first year participating, although I became aware of it a couple years ago when the now defunct local shop was participating (which sadly I was not in town for that time).  I’d posted a reminder on Reddit for the other locals of the group and Jean asked me if I was taking the bus…. which was the first I’d heard of it, and with some encouragement, I decided to go for it.. and I am ever so glad I did.  There were just shy of 30 of us on the bus for the North bound trip, and we visited 12 shops that day. It was organized by the ladies at Gathering Fabric in Woodinville, who not only planned the route, but handled the majority of the passport stamping and picking up your free quilt block pieces, so all you had to do was enjoy the ride, discover new quilt shops and shop.

And did we ever shop….

Its a Busload of fabric!

I actually didn’t go too much overboard, and most of my fabrics were for specific quilts I have in mind.

But there was also some things I just couldn’t leave at the store.

I did find a new gift/project, and while normally I don’t post such things to my blog pre-gifted… since this one involves so much work I think I can get away with it and it will still turn out to be a surprise when its done.

So much embroidery..... so very very much.

So much embroidery….. so very very much.

I also picked up some beads and buttons for my knitting, and stopped at 6 shops on Thursday and Friday… and all before I had to pick up Ben at the airport.

It was a great time, and I met some amazing people and I’d do it all again in a heartbeat!

Mario vs. Piranha Plant in the QAL

May has been one of those months where you feel like you are getting everything and nothing done all at the same time.   I have completed a lovely shawl I am saving for a later update, worked a bit on another shawl that is a gift (no update yet), started yet another pair of socks, and even did a wee bit of gardening, such as adding my flagstones to my side yard path.

My porch is just to the left.  I've spent a wee bit of time out there enjoying the flowers while knitting a bit this month too.

My porch is just to the left. I’ve spent a wee bit of time out there enjoying the flowers while knitting a bit this month too.

And so yesterday I finally got around to working on my Quilt-Along Mario Block… so I doubled down and did two.  (Also because when reviewing my plans at the end of last month I realized I might actually want to do more than 12 blocks. I finally got around to Mario.

Itsa me! Mario!

Itsa me! Mario!

My Mario was actually done in two pieces because the 820 Quilter’s Grid is wide enough that you can get one and a half blocks per section.  Since I only bought 10 yards at the start, I decided it was time to see how difficult it will be to work out the extra squares or if I would need to buy more interfacing.  And it looks like it came out ok.

I also tackled a Piranha Plant!

Nom Nom Nom

Nom Nom Nom

This is a version from the QAL group and replaces the bare warp pipe in the original Quilt design set. btw, both of the blues in the above squares are the same, its just a matter of lighting and cell phone photos.

Life is all a Work in Progress…. Here’s some of mine.

I don’t know about anyone else, but for me, sometimes I get lots of things all going at the same time and when I take just a second to breathe its all a bit overwhelming.  When I’m focused in on a single project then its easy to just keep right on going, like some puzzle where you just put in one more piece… “just one more block” so you can finally realize the big picture.

So on the one hand, when you have multiple projects going, doing a Quilt-A-Long(QAL) is a bit helpful, since you can focus on just one block and then you know that the object is to just do one a month so you’d best stop. Leaving the next block for next month is what you are supposed to do, and not just sitting there taunting you.

So first up… my QAL block for April is Luigi.

Issa' Luigi!

Issa’ Luigi!

I personally like Luigi better than Mario.  I don’t know why… maybe its second child/second player related… but if you make me choose, I want Luigi.  So my quilt means… Luigi gets completed first.  I did assemble him facing left, whereas the original pattern has him facing right.  But I like the variety of not having all my characters facing one direction.

I have also managed to push out more star blocks, and am now up to 33 stars.

This does mean I’ve managed to complete one of every different fabric type.  I’ve started to make them a bit more assembly line style, which does help with feeling productive and actually getting them done.  I tend to make from four to six all at the same time.  Hopefully I can keep on track and get all my stars complete this year.

Lastly…. I made a small test block for someone online, and they gifted me with a charm pack of beautiful autumn colored batiks.  (A Charm pack is 40 5 inch by 5 inch squares)  When I saw it my first thought was autumn leaves, so I set out to find a quilt block.  I finally settled on a Tree of Life Block with each of my batiks as leaves on my trees.  So I fiddled about with my paper and pen until I arrived at what I think is a solution.  Then the next time I was out, I bought some background and Tree trunks to go with my leaves and now I have it all ready and waiting for the first cut.

Spring Sunshine on an Autumn Quilt.

Spring Sunshine on an Autumn Quilt.

Not shown here today is my movie strip quilt that is hibernating awaiting more photos, my Christmas Cathedral Window I want to use up Christmas Fabric Scraps on, the Kandinsky Art Quilt I’m still working on plotting circles for, or the Star Trek Disappearing (Space) Nine Patch that I need to buy the solids to go with my prints.

Ah well… they will all get finished eventually, right?

Catching up on my Quilting Along

This one is just a short update to catch you up on my catching up to the Quilt-A-Long I’m doing.

I managed to get the ? Block Block done.

Is it a coin?  Is is a mushroom?   Let's bash our head into it and find out!

Is it a coin? Is is a mushroom?
Let’s bash our head into it and find out!

And then to change it up… I did a Goomba!

Goombas are Dance Dance Revolution Champions!

Goombas are Dance Dance Revolution Champions!

This block reminded me about the younger days of the internet, when there were a large number of people making small animated gifs to append to their signature lines called blinkies.  (There were also “dolls”)

I totally made some back in the day too!

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.

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.