The January 1000

Believe it or not… I knit 1000 yards in January.  (Yeah I know, I hardly believed it myself)  The whole month I was in “I’m never going to finish all the things I want to get done this year” for a mindset which may have helped but then again was a bit stressful at times.

So let’s see… first we made socks that I’m putting firmly in the category of “will wear for benefit of the TSA.”  This is a silly idea of mine that since we have to take off shoes most often to travel, and since the TSA officers then get to see a myriad of socks, I shall wear socks as if it were a sock contest.  Previously this was novelty holiday socks, but now I have these beauties checking in for the first 200+ yards:

No officer, a clown did not puke on my feet.

No officer, a clown did not puke on my feet.

 

That pattern probably would look a bit better in a less variegated color, but it was a nice simple repeat suitable for taking in the car or when concentration isn’t as needed.  Which means it offset my lace and beads shawl project.

The pattern itself was only available for a very short time called Dance With Dragons.  I used about half of my Secret Santa yarn, so I shall need to find another project for the remainder, but overall I am loving how it came out.

Next up… it was the January Cold Sheep challenge… find the oldest yarn in your stash and knit it up.  Technically I’ve other yarn that was in my stash for longer, but due to the time of year and the plans for it, I went with actually probably the oldest yarn.  A vintage Dazzleaire from the era of when it was “new” that may even predate my own existence.

Dazzling Yellow Dazzleaire

Dazzling Yellow Dazzleaire

This yarn joined my stash from another knitters stash.  The idea of what to do with it went through several considerations and I really do like the colorway.  But when pressed for an idea… I decided to make my very own design Neck Cat.

This kitty loves to travel.

This dazzling kitty loves to travel.

The essential design idea is a cat themed neck/travel pillow, and I’d say that while its comfortable, and obviously a cat, this fella needs a second go through the design phase.  The next iteration I plan to aim for a more curved and less square body shape, with feet that are a part of the main pillow.

Now at this point I was just shy of both February and 1000 yards. I wasn’t yet ready to start another beaded shawl.  Another person shared some mosaic knit dish/wash cloths, and I am sitting on a stash of quite a bit of cotton so….I churned out a pair of cloths myself.

Coral and Peach Partners

Coral and Peach Partners

Technically the photo above is at the one and a half cloth stage, but I thought it was a nice showcase of how you can just swap the two colors around and get a mismatched yet still matched pair.  It successfully made two skeins of cotton exit the stash and so now I’m starting another mosaic pattern for another pair.

Mosaic knitting is where you slip one color while working the other color across the design.  When you get back to the start of the design, you swap and work the other color while slipping the first color.

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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!

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.

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.

To Boldly Go…into Star Trek Quilts

While I could bore you with the details of how Ben suggested we do the Star Trek Reddit gift exchange, and how I am extremely nervous about gifting strangers handmade gifts because I’m afraid they will be seen as the golden macaroni pencil cup.. I think instead I will just post the silly little Captain’s Log Story I sent with my giftee’s quilt (and of course photos!).

Disappearing 4 patch in Trek, Command Gold, Science Blue and Red Shirt

Disappearing 4 patch in Trek, Command Gold, Science Blue and Red Shirt

B Captain’s LogB

Stardate 2264.2

While on our way to check on one of the outlying colonies, Mr. Spock noted the presence of several indicators of intelligent life in an adjoining star system and I’ve decided to check it out.

Stardate 2264.3

The Enterprise has been stopped at the 4th planet in the System. Mr. Scott assures me that the engines are all online but that “She just won’t go!”

Meanwhile, we have been hailed by a being who says her name is Materialanna, representing the Textilian Homeworld. They are claiming we have caused a rent in their space-time fabric and demanding we sew up a suitable patch.

Spock is concerned about the inconsistency of a species that seems to view space-time as a fabric, and yet has the ability to stop a starship.

I have decided at this point to go along with their quilt patch plan, and if nothing else, that will hopefully give Mr. Scott the time he needs to figure out how to get the Enterprise moving again.

Stardate 2264.6

I assigned Dr. McCoy to the seaming of our patch fabric. He mentioned something about “Doctor Not a Seamstress” and “Hospital Not a Sewing Circle!” but after reminding him he had the most stitching experience of anyone, he agreed to take up the task in one of the storage bays.

Quilt #5 is alive!

Quilt #5 is alive!

Stardate 2266.8

The quilt patch is complete! The Textilians have accepted our patch piece and assure us that it will be sent to the proper place and time. Mr. Scott is reporting full function of the Enterprise. Inexplicably, Mr. Spock has noted that all signs of life in this system have ceased to register on his scope.

a

And I made one for Ben's giftee too.  He helped with the layout, and even ironed once!

And I made one for Ben’s giftee too. He helped with the layout, and even ironed once!

Star Trek Into Darkness!  KHAAAAANNNNNNNNN!!!!

6th Quilt…… KHAAAAANNNNNNNNN!!!!

These two babies are already wrapped up and in the mail.  Normally I wouldn’t post gift items until they were received, but in this case the giftees do not have any idea who is gifting them so it is all still a mystery.  These two are backed with a classic trek fleece which was a first for me and I think they turned out pretty well.  I will update with a link here if they post about getting them.

UPDATE:  Ben’s Giftee posted about getting her items.

UPDATE #2: After no tracking updates since Tuesday… my giftee got his gift!

If A Bird in the Hand is worth 2 in the Bush, How much for 14 birds in the hand?

So last Christmas when I wrapped up Debora, I tied on my tiny version of the Bird in a Tree bird.  I’d made up one per the directions and he was very cute… but in the spirit of wondering if one could knit something up in size 5 embroidery floss I knit up the small version.

Full size and original tiny red bird for comparison.

Full size and original tiny red bird for comparison.

Tiny red was very cute, and the seed beads worked pretty nicely for eyes, which spared me the french knots… which is one of my least favorite embroidery stitches.  Red bird was a bit of a success… and so I accepted the challenge of knitting over a dozen more… which leads us back to… 14 birds in the hand:

The rough equivalent of 28 bush birds.... which isn't even the record for Pine Siskins at my feeder this past spring.

The rough equivalent of 28 in the bush birds…. which isn’t even the record for Pine Siskins at my feeder this past spring.

All of these birds were knit up on some of my smallest double pointed needles from a multipack of what I thought I might need at some point doing lacy socks or something.  Which I believe is the size 00 needles.  All I know is the whole time I was knitting I was worried I would end up bending them into new and unusual shapes. (Which only happened that one time!)  The floss was ok, but didn’t have much give, so if you dropped a stitch or messed up, it was pretty much a frog and redo process.

Now… in case you were wondering how small these guys REALLY are…

That's a US nickel for size comparison

That’s a US nickel for size comparison

Egg Cartons - aka Bird Organizers

Egg Cartons – aka Bird Organizers