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…..

2017 Craft Forecast

I know; I know; I don’t update for a couple months then BAM! three posts in a day.  As I’ve said before… this started out mostly for me, so I’m not even sorry.  Just as I am not sorry about all those extra holiday feasts, cookies and chocolate.  So just like last year I’m going to layout some ambitious goals for the year and let’s see how close or far we get!

In the quilting department my list of in progressed/planned/ideas is at 23.  I’m going to aim for finishing 5. In particular I’m declaring my Wedding Flowers, The Guestroom Quilt, Scrappy Snowflake, and a Contours Quilt (bought kit – paper pieced) with one wild card quilt option.

On the knitting front, I want to go for third Sock Madness, and a Double OtterBingo (which is a KAL year long project with the Reddit knitters group.  I’ve got a number of yarns stashed so I shall try to stash down a bit. (She said carelessly as she browsed more yarn for sale) I’d also like to spin up a bit more of my fiber I got last year.

House plans are kind of large this year as we want to redo our floors this year which may turn into one of those more major projects, but we shall see.  I’d also like to focus a bit more on my flower beds this year, including our community cul-de-sac which I revamped a bit last year, and get the room I sew in straightened up a bit, because let’s just admit that an orderly workspace can often be a more productive workspace.

Last year I put a big focus on improving my health and saw some success, so I want to keep that trend line going in the right direction.

Quick Tip: Keeping Track of your yarn labels

I thought I’d share one method I sometimes employ for keeping track of my yarn labels.

First I wind my ball of yarn as usual:

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Then I fold my label so that its smaller than the width of the center of my yarn ball, and then hold this over that center pillar as I pull the yarn ball off the winder.  This leaves the label inside the yarn ball.

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If you also pick up that center pull end and put it inside the folded label, it makes it fairly easy to find that center pull for later, although this does end up removing your label from inside your yarn ball once you start working it.

Of Failures, Fibers and Finished Objects

So let me start this off with an apology.  When I started my blog it was just about knitting and probably 90% or more for my own edification.  Then I made a couple things and a few things more and found myself with a blog that while not front page news is being visited more days than not out of the year.  So this year I started off with a goal of bumping up that post number so there would be a bit to read a bit more often… and its looking an awful lot like I’ve failed at that, but I hope you will forgive me as I keep trying to keep up.

I was kind of holding off on updating this time because of my failure feelings, so you can probably imagine my surprise when I have six finished objects to share.

First up, I finished my twisted two color socks made from yarn swap yarn!

The pattern for these is an obscure free one called Twisted. Its done without a cable needle and for me, I decided to continue the design on the legs, which meant going up a needle size.

Then I turned up the full steam of “really its only 180 more rows” and finished up my There and Back Again Hobbit Scarf even before Ben’s birthday.  I figure this way he can wear it on the winter trip rather than finish for Christmas and have him freeze before then.

Now if I had this to knit over again, I’d probably not have chosen single ply yarns (the pills!) and I’d have picked a true solid instead of a tonal.  That said, the charts are exceptionally well done and its an epic scarf with an epic tale.

Now at this point I shall remind you that I was yarn swapping last post and so point out that my gifter sent me some AMAZING gifts, including a glorious skein she spun herself (on the left here).

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This is relevant because whenever I do a yarn swap I have a wonderful time picking out the yarn to give which is then immediately followed by shame and guilt over yarns that are still in my stash.  There is yarn in my stash I was gifted three years ago.  You see… I have this thing where gifts are significant to me, and thus yarn gifts need to become something significant and meaningful.  And there are a few yarns that end up in that pile too… such as the Araucania Lauca yarn which was a wool, camel and silk blend.

So I fixed that by knitting up a honey cowl, and in true “leave no yards behind” mentality I also made up a matching slouchy hat.

Now September and October are currently lace knit along months and so I started out with a lace and bead cowl.   The yarn for this one includes Sea Cells in the blend, which is made from the cellulose of sea weed fibers, and when I saw it on the yarn crawl this year I knew it was in need of something with beads.

I should mention that this is my first time using bicone style beads and they are taller than a typical 6/0 bead so instead of border beads on the side of the pattern I just did a simple purl stitch.  I restarted this so many times before I did that change just trying to make it work.  This was a classic example for no one is judging your final project based on the tribulations you went through except you…. unless you tell them.

Which brings us at last to the sixth finished object.  Technically this was cast on way back in January, but at that time I had a bit going on and this is a pattern with both front and back side charting and is one of those projects you kind of have to pay attention to… but boy is it worth it.

This is in fact another swap yarn and you may remember it from the Maple shawl.  This time its a white oak lace scarf, and there is actually a bit of this yarn left… I’m contemplating a matching hat to finish it off, but don’t hold your breath just yet on that one.

Whew! That’s quite a few finishes.

But wait!… There’s More!

I did put Fiber in the title for a reason… and not just because I was going to namedrop so many different fibers either.  It was actually about something that came just today.  I found a thrift auction for 6 lbs of wool fleece, and it was a good enough deal that I bought it.

For yarn reference there are over 450 grams in a pound and most average commercial skeins weigh either 50 or 100 grams.  Its a very big bag.

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The majority of the bag looks to already be washed and is ready to be carded then spun.  There was a smaller amount of it still “in the grease” which shows it was a bit of a curly hair breed.

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So we will see how this new endeavor spins out.

And lastly a WIP update… I need to get back to my tulip cross stitch.. I did make it past the half way spot, but I’m a bit behind for where I wanted to be at this point.

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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.

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:

Shop Hop Part Two (6 more Shops)

So in order to be eligible for prizes you need to visit 16 stores.  With the bus that covered my first ten.  So on Friday I stopped at the three most local to me, and yesterday got the last three more on the way to Mount Rainier.

I picked up my giant length of white for my wedding quilt, the grey background for my guestroom top as well as several bits and pieces for both the wedding and dinosaur quilts I have on the idea board.

Day Two Fabric Haul

And if you recall the Seattle Fabrics I picked up last year and still haven’t made a project with… well the last shop we stopped at had a Washington Fabric that has similar themes…. so I got some of that too.

Washington Fabric

My fabric stash is piling up… I’d best get to work!  Though I will leave you with a teaser of the latest quilt idea I have been working on.

Fishpond WIP top

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.

Pillow Fight! (And Mario QAL updates too!)

So, Jean, who invited me on the Quilt Shop Hop Bus introduced herself as a “Beginner Quilter” in that she begins all her quilts.  This was a minor consolation when I was organizing my fabric space and discovered my Sewing Works in Progress was overflowing a 14 gallon tote.

Now, to be perfectly fair, the first photo makes the tote look rather unorganized, but in reality under the bag of eventual Christmas Cathedral Window Quilt and the loose future Mario QAL blocks its all sorted out by project.  But in my organizing I did find a few items that have languished in unfinished land for far too long.  Primarily there was a set of three needlepoint pillows where all the needlepoint work was done, but the actual making into pillows part was never done.  (One of which I posted about in July 2011, the other two were from even prior to that!)

So in an effort to finish some of the things… I forged ahead and finally finished making them into pillows.

The sunflower pillow I had actually bought material specifically for finishing.  (Though I bought way more, because at the time it made perfect sense that I would make several sort of matching pillows and want to finish them the same.)  The other two, I completed with stash fabric I’d originally bought for other uses.

So between the pillows and the two Mario QAL Blocks I made, it looks like I can at least close the lid of the WIP bin. (Until I need to get into it for the next project anyway!)

As I mentioned at the End of May in my last Super Mario Quilt-A-Long update, I am looking to do more than just 12 blocks in my quilt.  Mario’s princess will be in this castle quilt.  So I’m doubling up the next couple months to be sure I get all my blocks done for year end finishing.  This time I tackled two from the sky.

This cloud so happy, you'd think Bob Ross painted it.

This cloud is so happy, you’d think Bob Ross painted it.

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Ben said I should say this was an “8-bit” quality photo. (Instead of  admitting I took it with my cellphone in the later evening.)

Future blocks include, Peach, Green Mushroom, Coin, Fire Flower, and a few more!  I am aiming now for a 16 (4×4) block quilt.

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!