There And Back Again

I left off last time with my quilt frame top plate having just arrived and assembled, the imminent start of the next sock madness round, and a fast approaching road trip departure to a memorial. So let’s start where I did… with my first “quilt” set up on the frame to give it a trial run. I chose to try it out on a simple triangle pattern fabric that I planned to use like a cheater quilt. Straight lines are pretty easy with a walking foot, and on the horizontal left to right or right to left, I found the frame just as easy and perhaps even more efficient. However, I struggle with angled lines. With a walking foot I’d have turned my fabric’s orientation and it would have been all straight. But on the frame I was attempting to drive free form at an angle. Some lines turned out more wavy than others. But overall the start to finish on a throw size quilt was significantly shorter and took me about one day.

On my machine I get about six inches of depth before needing to roll up the quilt, which on this fabric was about two triangles high. This seems like a good reasonable amount and I’m eagerly looking forward to the next quilt…. which I think is to be the Bargello flag because July is coming.

In the hats department… we have arrived at June, which will be the sixth hat in the series, so here’s an overview of the first five.

The next round of sock madness happened just after I got my pink quilt off the frame and before I could sew the binding down on the back side. It was an instarsia harlequin single stitch sock, so lots of fiddly tails. Personally I think if you knit a sock pattern that devotes a section to how to manage 17 yarn threads, you can no longer say you are a beginner knitter.

I managed to finish my pair at the charge stop in Clearwater, Minnesota. It was raining. My finished posts are primarily laid out on my seat, and I had to hunch over. The things we do in the spirit of competition! They took me five calendar days, but one of those days I was driving across most of Montana which hardly counts. I sewed the binding on my quilt down and started another pair for my patient husband between rounds from my new magazine subscription.

The next round (still ongoing) started on the 29th with me needing to hand wind up my skein of yarn. They have beaded embroidery embellishment after you finish knitting, and alas after a few delays for me, I am out of the competition, but have managed to get one sock knitted.

But wait! There’s more! (Sorry… couldn’t help myself there) I also managed to finish my big monogamous knitting project and can now reveal it in some of its glory. I managed to finish and bind off right under my auntie’s nose and then found a sneaky place to block it a bit. Honestly I am mildy disappointed I didn’t bring it home to block it again to get the last of the bunched bits flattened out but based on how things have worked out.. I might not have been able to block it for awhile yet and this way she got it as an early birthday surprise.

If you look closely, the new cone is slightly different on the edges, but I am calling that a design element. This is the Tannenzpfen/Fir Cone pattern by Herbert Niebling. Its 405 rounds, and I knit mine on 000 needles and it came out about four feet square-ish.

Whew! That was quite a bit. But there is more coming up this month. I’m debating if I may do at least some of the quilt shop hop this year which is happening this month. And strawberries and raspberries should be ripening for picking soon too. And of course… new month… new hat to knit. Until then… socks, socks, and more socks.

The Monotony of Monogamy

That title seems ominous, but I assure you its not. Its just a reference that when you are working on a large scale project and you want to finish… you start to just work on that project monogamously and at some points you just want it to be done already because if you look at that yarn and needle combination any longer your brain is going to wither away from the monotony of it. Now that I have teased and explained myself, you would naturally assume I was going to reveal my finished large project. I regret to say no such luck, its a gift so I don’t usually reveal photos until its been given (Though if you check my Ravelry projects you can figure it out). I am past the monotony stage and am now in the panicking about yarn chicken stage and I will show you where I am in that regards. I bought two cones of lace weight for a couple lace projects. Both cones were by weight the same size and a bit of 3300 yards range which I was (at the time) confident would see me through. Well here’s those same two cones just a couple weeks ago at a bit over 80% done:

I am down to my last 25 rows… wish me luck!

Now… the last post I said I ordered a smaller quilt frame and I’ve actually been holding up this post because while the main part of the frame has arrived… I’m still waiting on the last part, which is the carriage top and handles that make it work with my home machine. Maybe by posting about it anyway the cosmic universe will get the nudge it needs to break it free from limbo. So now here’s some photos and details.. and I confess in my eagerness I didn’t do any cleaning up of my craft space so I apologize for the mess.

First up.. let’s talk about working spaces. The space I use for my quilting is a bit multi-use in that my husband and I keep lots of books and as what happens in extra space that’s where sometimes things end up as storage. So I try to get a lot of use out of my space. One of my great finds was the Ikea Norden table I use for a cutting table and general workspace. With the leaves folded up I get a nearly 60 inch workspace, but then if I fold them down its a bit under 13 inches! The gatelegs that hold up each of the leaves is incredibly sturdy too. So my frame space and my cutting space are basically the same, I just fold up my table when I want to use the frame. The only “downside” to my table that I have found is that the drawers are 3 each side so my super long 6×24 ruler doesn’t fit in across the whole length… that would have been perfect!

The frame I chose was the Grace Q-Zone Hoop frame. I chose the Pro version to get the cloth leaders, the upgraded track system and the table inserts for the potential of templates/pantographs. I also ordered a laser and stitch regulator and those two items arrived first a few days before the frame boxes. I ordered through my local sewing machine store because I do try to go local when I can. I was dancing with glee when they called to let me know my frame was in. It came in three boxes labeled 1 of 3, 2 of 3, and 3 of 3 (plus the two accessories in their own box). I used the paper instruction booklet and immediately set to work putting it together myself. And, I honestly find that step important for this frame as the way you assemble and walk through the steps is a basic hands on approach to how you will adjust and use your frame. 90% of assembly can be done solo and the last bit you can do solo if you have something to rest the table end on when you put on the first leg brace (such as a chair) if you don’t have an assembly partner. All of it can be done with the included tools; it does take a couple hours.

Then you get to page 9, the back rail assembly, and the directions point you to page 18 for the carriage top plate assembly and realize those parts didn’t come in those three frame boxes. Now, I have read several reviews so I didn’t panic too much straight away (just enough to be slightly miffed I couldn’t move on to actually using my frame just yet) because a number of reviews mentioned this additional box that shows up a couple days later with those parts. I did call the next day to the sewing shop and confirmed they are expected. Everyone cross our collective fingers. The good news is that as you can see, although the frame is wider front to back than my table, lengthwise its actually a bit shorter. So it fits easily in the space.

Meanwhile, when I’m not knitting the big monotonous monogamy project its speedy Sock Madness. I hoped to be knocked out in the early rounds because end of this month I need to travel to a funeral, but due to my inability to not attempt to be competitive, I’m still in and moving on to round four. So here’s the first three pair, which have encompassed knitting inside out with cables, beads and two color with brioche.

Marching Onward

For this update I am presenting some awkwardly taken photos in handknit hat and scarf, some pretty awesome Sock Madness qualifier socks and a whole laundry basket of quilting plans.

I live in the Pacific Northwest. It rains here. Quite a lot in the Spring and Fall. So much so that last spring at the end of a particularly rainy week, I pulled out of the garage and noticing it was just misting and thought aloud “well at least its not raining.” This means overcast days and also they get pretty short on the winter end of the year, so lots of photos when I finish end up at far less than ideal lighting. So in today’s less than grand photos… I bring you my March hat, knit up in the remnants of my Harvest sweater yarn.

You may recall my sweater was a lovely shade of chestnut brown with splashes of a lovely teal. And while this hat is knit with the exact same yarn, this photo is taken at 9PM in the dark and I was trying to be a bit creative with the mirrors.

Next up, I picked out a deceptively simple garter stitch short row scarf. I started in January with the goal of using up the 90% skein of Cascade worsted and at least one skein of some Liberty Wool I was gifted back far enough I put it in my Ravelry stash in 2013.

I ended up running out of the Cascade and had to sub due to availability of BLACK yarn of all things… and only used one skein of the Liberty Wool, but I love how it hugs the neck and transitions through the color changes. Sadly most of the color changes are hidden behind the fold.

Now that those horrible photos are behind us… onto the Sock Madness Qualifier round! The designer of these beauties is more typically submitting later round socks, last year was the three color Lampropeltis, but she writes in a way that if you just jump in with trust they are clear. I actually chose one of her designs as my third pair ever. My first pair were vanilla stockinette and I thought they were the most boring things ever. My second set was a KAL pair which taught me that socks don’t have to be boring. I mostly avoid boring socks.

And in quilting news; I have placed an order for a smaller frame that should fit my machine for quilting! I decided letting my quilting projects pile up without getting to the actual quilting part was kind of sad. So today I went and bought some backing fabrics for my future quilts and here’s the previews of some future projects. There is also my wedding quilt but no photos of that one yet.

So its sock season… expect more socks and eventually some quilt frame assembly and hopefully some finished quilts!

Getting Ripped

That’s right this post is all about bulking out and… oh no, its about having to fix mistakes, which in sewing involves the seam ripper and I had some ripping adventures on this latest project! You may recall the yellow and green fabric from a post back in January where I finally decided what it was going to become. I picked a pattern called Ruby Reflections in a post holiday sale and while I didn’t have quite enough to do a full pattern, I was able to scale it down one step with what fabric I had (plus a wee bit to supplement the yellow that I was lucky enough to find on ebay) leaving me with what should be enough of the green for the binding so all I need for this one is some backing! But along the way I had one row where I apparently turned the blocks 90 degrees and that one row I seamed together the wrong side so there was plenty of seams to pull apart and redo, but some of the corners seamed together into some practically perfect points.

I’ve discovered that just about the time I’m starting to get that confidence and mental motion of “I’m totally nailing this! I am going to finish this up so fast and nicely!” then here comes reality with a humility check roll. But my determination stat is pretty high so… I’ve finished this quilt top! All 84 blocks in one month and coming out at approximately 67 inches square.

At the end of January I got most of my backing/binding and border fabric for the Rainy Day Quilt, so here’s an updated version of that quilt top. I want to do something a bit fun on the back of this one since its already a bit of a hashed together front.

In the knitting department I finished my first socks of 2021, a pair of Fifteens, which is a warm up pattern for Sock Madness and a celebration of their Fifteenth year! And I completed the February Hat. I did quite a bit of a knitted gift as well, but as per my usual, I don’t post gifts until they are given or under special circumstances.

With Sock Madness starting up next month… expect more socks coming soon! (And the March Hat too!)

2020 Hindsight

Like how could I not use that title for my recap post. I am as I frequently am.. rather behind on my blog posts. It has been a not great year, but then I think that’s also true for a number of people. Though all the home time did mean I finished or moved along several crafting projects.

On the quilting front I did pretty good. I’ve discovered I greatly enjoy the piecing part more than the quilting part though. I found a backing for my Anniversary quilt top, Quilted my Contours kit, Made a Rainy quilt top, a Patriotic Bargello Flag top, and coming in hot of the machine a Warmth in our Stars is just needing some borders.

Obviously I kept knitting… I did finish all of my Stash busting projects which included four sweaters! My November one was a lace weight lace cardigan and means I finished out my Neighborhood Fiber Company Sweater club from 2017 yarns. I finished 20 pairs of socks! And managed to squeeze in 3 scarves, 2 hats a pair of mittens and a shawl! I knit over 14,506 yards which is well over 8 miles!

In retrospect with it all laid out its a bit impressive. Just the same I’d rather have had more sunshine and less craft time.

I”ll be back soon (I hope!) for my plans that are still brewing for 2021.

Getting caught up and carried away

You are not going to believe this but… I’m actually on pace with even my October Mystery Stash KAL goals right now! Of course I completely spaced out on updating in September so there is that…

Yes, that means I finished my third sweater of the year (August). I opted for a Hinterland by Jennifer Steingass to use up a portion of the camel blends I’ve picked up across a couple years with the goal of wearing it and as granny used to say “feel like a real rich bitch”

My September project was a pair of Pixel Stitch socks for Ben, but I also managed to fit in a pair of special request shorty socks for my nephew Gus. Gus let me trace his feet the last time I saw him, and I told him he would need to be patient but I’d send them via the mail. His mom said he’d been saying he was getting socks in the mail and kept asking to go check for them. So I may need to find time to make him a second pair for Christmas or something.

I then spent the rest of the month playing catching up on that one Christmas gift project that I had started back in October of 2018 and put on my list of annual goals to catch up on. Well I’m half way through the charts at least! But I could use another month or two between now and December I think.

For October I had some Kid Seta Pearl I got for Christmas in 2016 to use up. I picked a simple texture keyhole scarf that I figured I’d use up the three balls making. Well it used two, so then I figured I’d add a beret with yarn held double and yet when I finished that there was still just a bit left so I made some mitten cuffs with a third yarn for the main body of the mittens and well now its a third of the month gone. I guess I got a bit carried away!

So now its back to Holiday gift making until next month, which should be a lace weight sweater.

It’s OK if your toes don’t match

Sometimes you just have to take life as it comes at you. Sometimes its big things, and sometimes its just annoying things, and sometimes it feels like all the things all at the same time. This year has devolved a bit into one of those years for me. And while it might not be the most healthy approach to dealing with it, I tend to fall back on to just getting things done. They don’t have to be perfect but they need to move into the done pile and can’t linger in the projects in progress that weighs like an obligation.

So there I was approaching the end of July still working on my socks from June and sweater from May with a pair of socks still yet unstarted for my actual July project and… I ran out of yarn on the second toe. So I made the choice to sub in a scrap bit of yarn on toe two. Its ok, the socks are functional. I still chased down a matching scrap from a fellow Raveler but in the mean time… its ok the toes don’t match. They are done and beautiful.

I also managed to finish up the sweater AND the two pair of Anniversary socks. The sweater is my second one out of the stash of vintage black crepe yarn I picked up at a thrift store. It doesn’t photograph so well and it could use some buttons but again… its done!

I really like being able to finish things and not have them linger. So I also finished up the quilting on my Contours quilt kit, which I’d had pin basted for about six months and just didn’t feel very confident in my abilities on the quilting it kind of fancy. So I quilted it with scribbles and wavy lines and enjoyed every minute of the binding even if the quilting wasn’t so grand.

Now personally I am having a significant number of feelings about patriotism these days. But I came up with the idea for this quilt top back when I had more optimism as a thank you for some friends of ours that sometimes invite us to their July 4th celebrations. The final dimensions ended up at a very optimistic 54 x 40.

And once again… look at all the things we got done because we just needed a tick in the win column and it didn’t matter that the toes didn’t match.

Its been forever and nothing got done…

There are certainly times it feels like its been so much longer and so little finished I’d have nothing to say.  Usually I have to start out flipping back through photos to figure out if I did actually manage to finish things and sure enough there is.

So first up let’s finish off Sock Madness… the Mobius madness socks knocked me out since its fairly easy to twist something any which way once but figuring out how to flip it the other way was just not in my wheelhouse.  Plus I had real trouble reading the twist as I was knitting it until I was several rows in because of how you knit it.

The next sock was a three color sock and its beautiful but I’ve not yet gotten even the first one done.  Normally this is where I toss in the towel on socks but they were rather cool looking and the pattern at the end was the very last BBK pattern which includes beads or as she would call them… bling.  So I used up nearly the last of my fingering weight from Neighborhood Fiber Co to knit those.. and then managed to use the absolute last of it making the last Lacy not Lazy so I’d have a matching pair.

In the midst of all this sock knitting it was also kitten season… which for me meant kitten hunting season.  You may recall from the prior post that Conan turned 17 this year.  He has health issues and our other cat, Kaylee, has bonded rather closely with him but was incredibly under socialized when we first got her.  So last winter we decided this spring we would keep an eye out and look to adopt a new kitten so she would have some time to bond with another friend as well.  Finally on May 28, we managed to make an appointment at a shelter and adopted this guy into our home…. he’s called Balex.  And he has a lot to learn about knitting FO photography.  And yes… this does mean we have three orange cats, but that’s just because the orange ones are so awesome!

So you’d think after all those socks I’d be back onto the second sweater but… nope! I circled back to my April Mystery Stash KAL and finished a pair of Hermoine’s Everyday Socks in April Showers.  June’s project was to make some Coffee Cantata socks and I’ve got half a leg done… but opening the July bin… its time to make our semi-matchy anniversary socks in Rainbow and Grey.

Hopefully July will get me caught up to at least the things I have planned… but life has been coming pretty fast lately.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle & Repair

So as someone with a not so tiny fabric and yarn stash, I’m doing alright at crafting in a time of Staying Home for Covid.  It certainly doesn’t hurt that its also Sock Madness time so for brief bits of time I have specific projects to occupy my time.  This year I made it into Round 5, and we came up against a rather technical sock and I didn’t make it into the Final Five round Six, but I’m still plenty pleased with how I did since to me its all for learning skills and making socks. This year there was a significant portion of colorwork socks in their various forms. Here’s a few including the vibrant yellow of a warm up pair but just one of the three teal & aqua I ended up making with a fourth planned for someday soon.  But at least I have reduced some of my yarn stash right?

April was slated to be a pair of Hermoine’s Everyday Socks in my Mystery Stash Bust along… but the timing felt like I’d be running into other Madness rounds so I substituted in a pair of Morrison socks which were a DK weight.  Theses were on a yarn dyed by Black Trillium whom sadly is getting out of yarn dying. So I may have partook in the going out of business sale and this is also partially why I have such a stash.  In my defense… the socks and a couple of the skeins are for Ben so….

May is also Conan’s 17th birthday month.  So to tackle his gift it was decided to make him a heated car bed.  You can buy a basic heating mat to place under the cushion in a traditional store bought bed, but you can’t just expect a cat that regularly sleeps on Stargate beds to sleep on something from the store… so into the fabric stash I dove.  I will admit I am a fan of some of the novelty cat prints and came up with a cat and mouse design that seemed big enough for the project.  I quilted the cat fabric through two batting remnants into a fabric that back in my much younger days started out as a sink skirt in an apartment with almost no storage. (Reuse!)  Then I added bolsters with more cat fabric on the interior and a durable Sunbrella fabric on the exterior.  At the bottom I made a pillow of some fleece remnants and stuffed that with overlapping edges and scraps of fleece batting and pillow stuffing.

The heating mat slides between this pillow bottom and the quilted topper.  The bed was a pretty big hit and is large enough for at least two snuggling orange cats. Conan is pretty good about sharing with Kaylee

Quite some time ago in 2015, I picked up several Row by Row quilt kits and even went so far as to assemble an umbrellas and a rain boots set of rows.

umbrellas and boots

And that was as far as I got but with me trying to organize my stash and use up… I found fabrics a couple years back that also exemplified the rain and with a bit of pondering and math I decided I could make something of them if I turned those rows back into blocks. (Recycle!) So I pulled the seams and did a bit more math and am able to present at least the center of a Rainy Day quilt top!

Sadly while I do have enough of the Rain drops trim, I am mostly out of the Umbrella tops fabric (and the novelty toss) which I think would be an ideal border so its going to probably sit a bit longer until shops re-open or my online wandering find a new solution.

Which finally brings us to the repair portion.  This happens with socks… sometimes far sooner and more often than I would hope for, but there it is. I know I have posted before about the use of duplicate stitching and making patches to fix them, but my husband presented me with a unique problem recently in his Bamboo socks I had just made up last October.  He wore BOTH the toe soles out of them!

img_3497So I decided it would be best just to take out that portion of the toes and reknit them back from the yarn I still had in my partial balls stash.  (I’d like to say this is the reason I keep them but honestly its that I rarely make up scraps projects)

Step one is pretty easy, you just snip out the toe and then start unraveling like you were unhappy with it, until you end up with a row of loop stitches.  Then thread your needles through the loops, join your yarn and reknit back down the toe.  Be sure to look carefully which way your yarn is on your needle as I find I tend to pick up twisted and then need to knit the first row through the back of the loops to get it to untwist.

Now, yes there is some color variation due to wear, but a few washes along and it will even out a bit more.  You can also (I did this on one of them) use the yarn that you pulled out of the toe and duplicate stitch reinforce that area where the hole formed to give it a bit more sturdy of fabric.

Whew…. that was quite a lot going on in April and early May… and I didn’t even get into the next sweater of the year… guess I’ll save that for next time. 🙂

The Knit Goes On

So February exited rather dramatically here on in the Pacific NorthWest, and of course now its spread much farther.  For many people that means a bit more crafting time.  Not that many of us will actually achieve our imagination’s ability to dream up all those things we could finish if we only had the time, but maybe a bit more than some.

Spring In Her Path

For me, I was impressed with myself on being able to actually knit a fingering weight sweater in one month as I managed to finish my February Stash KAL project, the Spring in Her Path sweater.

This actually means I’m three quarters of the way through my sweater club sweaters.  Previously I made the worsted weight Nutmeg Ginger, and the sport weight Waterfall Cardigan.  It still a bit cold here, but I might have tried to give it a blog debut with a first of the year cone to match up with a last of the year cone of the Nutmeg Ginger sweater, but alas the Tulip Festival has been recently cancelled, and so too our usual plans for a long drive and waiting in line for a monster ice cream.  I’ll just have to delay the satisfaction.

I managed to sneak in a pair of fingerless mitts from a KAL.  I’ve decided they shall be my driving gloves for when its a little too chilly in the mornings on the way to the pool… next fall.

March brought with it the start of Sock Madness, and my next Mystery Stash KAL project which turned out to be a cabled and lace scarf.  Followed up with the first round of Madness… which I’ve managed to finish in time to move on when the round ends.

March was supposed to bring a trip to Vogue Knitting Live, but its since been postponed to some later as yet unannounced date.  This was originally intended to be the major yarn shopping event for my year.  So I did a little virtual shopping to make up for it.  The bottom is from a local yarn dyer I particularly like called Hazel Knits.  The other two are also local-ish dyers that I am trying out.

Expect more socks… maybe even a few with these very yarns in the next update.  Until then.. stay safe everyone!