Where Have all the February’s Gone?

Great Googly-Moogly! I feel like everything and nothing has been happening around here.  I actually did have a plan to update in February, but that went completely out the window due to a impromptu trip to Kansas to help out family for a couple weeks.

I did mention I was going to knit up a test knit shawl.  Its a rather different design as its a center out triangle of 2 color brioche.  The pattern has been released as Arrakis.

Apparently it was a multi-color time frame as I’d just finished a two color shawl on my holiday trip, and then took up a two color brioche sample knit for my nearest local yarn store, The Nifty Knitter. 

file_medium2Which means I did not get either the Havar sweater dress done or the Sweater club sweater done…. and now its Sock Madness season.  Which I did finish my qualifier socks (and in fact are wearing them today!)

Which brings my finished knit yardage up to 1.7 miles thus far this year, even without any new sweaters. Which kind of negates the whole not knitting 11 miles again this year thing if I keep going at this pace.

One of the things I like about the Sock Madness group is that they give prizes for things other than the major end goal of fastest knitter of socks this year. Things like the ability to overcome some hurdles along the way or taking a great or amusing photos which is basically a general participation enjoyment.  The majority of the prizes are donated from fellow participants. The first year I didn’t know what to expect and joined because it was free, and you’d end up with all the patterns, so why not give it a shot.  It was the year of my wedding and I was knitting up all my flying piggies, and my post about knitting up flying piggies won me a prize of a couple skeins of yarn.  So I try to donate prizes now when I can.

One of the things I like to make for prizes and gifts for knitters are project bags.  And I’ve recently finished off a small batch. (And now I need a few more supplies to make another batch)  This style is a good size for a take your sock project with you.

 

At any rate… I am guessing the next post update will be socks.  And I may have to decide on which sweater for my between rounds project.  And just to make it more interesting, the email to pick my next sweater yarn shipment color showed up this morning!

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Looking Ahead to 2018

If you’ve read my year end/years beginning in the past you probably know I don’t really make resolutions.  I do set out ideas and monthly goals and try not to get too worked up when something goes off the rails.  (Hello, last year’s quilting goal!)  Life happens, and you just have to roll with it.

So here’s the plans thus far for 2018 and maybe I will surprise myself again.  I certainly didn’t set out to kit 11+ miles and double my socks knit count last year!

On the knitting front, I have 3 more sweater quantities of yarn coming from my Neighborhood Fiber Co. Sweater Club subscription, and I’d like to knit them up before the next one arrives.  Thus far I knit up a lovely cardigan and I’ve picked out my next yarn which should arrive sometime this month.

Additionally my husband bought me yarn for a Havar Sweater Dress.  (Maybe Valentines Day outfit??)  I am still committed to my Op-Art Socks though I was a bit of a slacker in December and knit neither KAL pattern, so now I am a pair behind.  (Though I totally did knit a different pair of socks that month… it counts right?) I have also committed through admiration to test knitting a lace weight brioche shawl by the same designer as my Weirwood Tree Shawl.  So perhaps fewer projects but of greater yardage is the plan for this year.

On the quilting front, I am tempering my number of quilts goal, though the guest room green and yellow modern is still on the list to be finished.

Guest Quilt Top

All that being said, I am a bit of a sucker for beautiful quilts and the woman behind the 365 Day quilt (which, again, I have not finished…) is doing a Block of the Month that is downright gorgeous, so I’ve signed up for her Aves Quilt A Long.

One item that can not be overstated enough is how organization helps with actually getting things completed.  I try to keep my stash updated on Ravelry so that when patterns catch my eye or when I’m contemplating what to knit next I have some idea of what I have without needing to go up and sort through the yarn bins. Alas, there isn’t (or at least I haven’t found it) a Ravelry equivalent for fabric and quilting.  So with the aide of my husband, I started a database to input my fabric stash so I can sort through what I have and perhaps liberate the ones I’m not madly in love with and find solutions for the fabrics I really do love.  So this year is going to be year of the fabric stash organization.  Right after I put away the Christmas decor….

2017: Year of the Knit

This year I managed to finish exactly ZERO quilts.  Though to be fair, I did make some progress on a queen size and my quilting area was dismantled for a few months while we redid our floors.

However, I knit like the wind with the most number of sock pairs (20), finished projects (38) and yardage (Over 11.5 miles!) in one single year.  So here’s a few of the highlights

For Christmas this year, my husband heard my laments about my inexpensive ball winder starting to show signs of fatigue and bought me a Nancy’s Knit Knacks Heavy Duty Ball Winder and enough yarn to knit myself a Havar sweater dress!  So you can expect to see some of that in the upcoming year.  I am currently battling a head cold and picot bind off for a shawl I knit primarily on our holiday visit… not sure which is going to come out the victor of that yet.

One Month, One Sweater

You may recall in my prior post I joined a sweater club and got my first shipment of yarn in.  This coincided rather nicely with a lead in to NaKniSweMo (aka National Knit a Sweater Month) and so I cast on Nov 2nd.

And so without further ado… I present some rather dark photos of a completed sweater less than a month later!

I managed to get it all out of just 4 hanks so I have a spare hank for a future project!

I am now dangerously close to the 11 mile mark at this point too! (Holy cow!)

Let the Madness begin (Plus a bigger dose of crazy)

The Madness I refer to is indeed Sock Madness.  I successfully navigated the qualification round with a pair of Twisted Madness Socks

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This put me on Team KP named for the toxic Pitohui bird.  I went from a Toxic Foxglove to a Toxic Pitohui… what are the mods saying about me?

First round was a dropped stitch pattern called Dropped Madness, and while its still only part way into the round I have finished my socks (I’m #2 for our team this round!), which since they fit Ben, are going to him. These did a different afterthought heel than I have done as well as a new increase style.   I do think making my drop stitch cowl designs last year helped me out this round!

And now onto the extra doses of Crazy.  We decided this would be our year for updating our carpet flooring which has truly seen better days to hardwood floors and refinishing our existing wood to make it looks like a seamless install. This means that the whole house has to get packed up and moved out (excluding cupboards and bathrooms basically).  My husband and I will openly admit that one of our failings is being at least a bit hoarder and packrat about various things (see also: fabric and yarn stashes)  So while I was hustling my knitting along into the qualifier, I was also being a crazy packing and moving planner.

The good news is that my activities have paid off and we are on track for our install!  Its going to look amazing once its done, but until then its a bit weird and out of sorts.

In the extra-extra dose of crazy…. I managed to work in a single Ludwig sock, and a bit of progress on both my Guest room quilt AND a striped summer weight (cotton/acrylic) sweater!

Technically I am on the green stripe after the 4th blue stripe of the sweater above… but who has time for taking more photos?!

Perfectly Presented

Its finally that time of year past gift giving when I can reveal the gifts I made.  I rather like making many of my gifts, though its generally a stressful proposition of that line called “I hope they like it”

First up is a project that was actually a few years in the making for my Father and Stepmother… a movie themed quilt.

I also made one of my nephews a dinosaur sweater… which meant finally having a good use for one of my handknit labels. (He has a great giggle!)

I made up 3 pair of socks and a pair of felted slippers.  The bottom pair went to a friend in Germany.

I also gifted some handmade jellys, lemonade concentrates, rope bowls, hooked rug and starts off my african violet.  Though the subzero weather enroute to their destination was certainly less than ideal for the violets.

I hope your holidays were amazing too!

 

 

This is a story and a sweater named Isabelle

Large projects like sweaters and blankets take on a bit of their own life.  Probably from soaking up just how much life happens during the time it takes for them to get made. Unlike many of my posts this one is probably a bit more personal, so don’t feel bad if you skip the reading for the photos. (And yes…. I take terrible selfies)

I started last November around the same time I decided to pursue some health issues that had been bothering me.  More recent symptoms had given me a bit more of a clue as to what to look into.  I’d managed to get past the armholes and was still working away at the body (Thankfully at this point with the lace panel memorized!) at my first endocrinology appointment in January. KNITWITS-APP-IMG_20151126_194627_2

It was at that particular appointment I got the news that my blood sugar was particularly high and I may want to try losing some weight to try and improve that result additionally it may have some impact on my other issues.  Meanwhile scans and labs were ordered and just maybe I’d have a few answers come February.

I was not particularly hopeful with the weight loss idea having been through some of the miasma of magical thinking that can follow around the idea of how such feats should be undertaken.  (Never eat X!; Only eat Y!; Fad-diet-of-the-moment is the only way to go!; Everything in life will be perfect if you just make it to this magic number on the scale)  But trying and failing had a bit more possibilities than not trying and failing, so I set out to try.  About a week in, I mentioned to a friend I was dieting (literally that single word in a list of things) in passing as part of a “what are you up to?” query.   Then a short time later watched as they went on a public tirade about dieting (some of which I agree with since it was in reference to the magical thinking bits I mentioned earlier) that ended in a don’t ever speak to me about this subject.

I won’t lie, it felt very personal and hurtful. It still does.  But you wipe your tears and try to keep on doing what is best for yourself.

IMG_20160223_143229_2So I kept on with my spring cleaning, flower planting, Knit Alongs and Quilt Alongs and got myself prepared for Sock Madness.  And by February I’d put several inches on my Isabelle in time for the follow up appointment (Though this time I was knitting socks for the Madness at my appointment). This isn’t too terribly slow considering my knit speed and its a fingering weight, but it does shed some light on how ambitious my intent for NaKniSweMo was.

Finally with only about 20 years between the first time I asked “Is this normal?” I had an answer.  Its PCOS. And while its not a get diagnosis and get cured kind of issue, it does have options to deal with symptoms. There is a certain relief in the knowing, and a small bit of hope.

With all the spring activities and start of Sock Madness, it took me up to the very end of March to finish the body, but on the plus side I did manage a somewhat decent selfie for the progress photo on the blog. And a week later I made the goal my doctor had suggested.

KNITWITS-APP-IMG_20160511_093444By May 11th when I finally finished the first sleeve, my Isabelle was becoming well traveled; Kansas, Oregon, and even Vancouver, BC.  At least knitting projects don’t need passports. I made my own first goal of “well if we can make that, let’s try for 5 more.”

Normally, I’d have put Isabelle on pause to work on my monthly Hobbit Scarf chart, but at the encouragement of my husband (future scarf owner) I cast on the second sleeve. I kept at it until the last competitive (for me) Sock Madness round which took me 10 days to do over 200 bobbles on just one pair of socks. Then right back into my Isabelle.

It took about 14.5 skeins of my vintage, thrifted, no yardage listed yarn (out of a possible 26) to finish so my estimated materials cost is about $23, although my labor is an entirely other matter. But by the last day of May she was finally off the needles and into the soak and then block stage.

Although I worried about the fit with my changing body, and the more immediate panic when the soak had created the stench of moth balls out of my vintage yarn, Isabelle fits. The soak smell has disappeared.  Its beautiful. As for that other stuff, well… its still a work in progress.

Spring Fever or Just Sock Madness?

Spring is certainly upon us.  I’m celebrating the sprouts and blooms, and as usual, finding even more things to plant. (Trying to catch up with my grandmother, but she has a walled garden and I have elk and deer)

So I confess I don’t feel like I haven’t gotten as many projects ticked over from in-progress to the done pile this month.  I did get my First Round Bracket/Team Sock Madness socks finished in time to go on to the next round.  These certainly fit my spring theme with their bright colors and lace blooms.

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Absolutely positively TSA worthy socks. (Kind of a pity we went electric and so now do more road trips than air trips in that regard.. pretty much the only downside so far)

Here’s the progress status on the WIP pile this month:

  • One more chart done on the Hobbit Scarf (We found the ring!)yyuicx2nqdovgj4-l6ggyh7r34f0ls6egu4o3h68thtjucvkjhb55rhhtnsb5ohooy521-1xrf_uayww6r7uwquei1tjijvkkq4k
  • Got my Sweater body done, next up a pair of sleeves! IMG_20160330_151309
  • Bought the backing for my Knight’s Tour quilt. IMG_20160330_161824

I did take a day for baking after getting my new oven! (Woo!!!) and I’m going to try to squeak in the hand appliqué of my snowflake top before the end of the month, so I can tick that off my monthly goals, but while its been quite a bit of progress, it could use a few more finishes.

The 32 days of January

No, that’s not a typo in the title. As I mentioned in my last post, I signed up for a 365 block-a-day quilt.  The designer of which offered two blocks for the first of January, one for the beginners and one for the more advanced.  Well I decided having an extra block might be nice for the grand scheme of things so I made up both.

So while I am still a couple weeks behind (which considering I didn’t sign up until the 22nd of January is closer to caught up than where I started!), I am now able to show all my January blocks.  These are all finished size 3 inch blocks (so 3.5 inches unfinished)

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As for the knitting front… Its getting closer to time to gear up for Sock Madness, so I’m working my WIP and knocking out my February/March KAL shawl early so I can be prepared to knit all the things!

Here’s a few teasers of knits yet to come!

A Frugal Sweater to Fall For

Wool yarn is generally not inexpensive.  This makes sweaters on the more expensive end of wearable crafts, and a bit of a hurdle for some new knitters.  One option when you are scouring sales racks and finding your way through the options are thrift sales.  If you are a little bit cautious and a little bit adventurous you can find a good deal.

I say cautious because it can be easy to see a brand name and some people will bid up to near retail price without considering any shipping or handling costs.  One of the main dangers with thrifted yarn is you don’t know how the last person kept their stash and paying near retail (or above if you forgot about the additional fees) only to discover you have a moth nest is going to be a bad time.

But also adventurous.  Take a chance on a wool brand you aren’t quite sure about.  Find one of those swooned about skeins in your price range.

It was this spirit of frugal adventure that ended in a purchase of 12 skeins of Christopher Sheep Wool for $21.99 or the equivalent of $1.75 a skein.  (7 in Barley, 4 in Chris Robin, 1 in unlabeled dark brown)

Now I can say that based on the Ravelry stashes and the color options seen on their website that my finds were from a much earlier period and in colors they no longer produce.  When I wound it into the balls I can say that the stash keeper before me had some issues with pests and so several of the Barley colored skeins were not unbroken.

Nevertheless, in the spirit of stash busting cold sheeping I decided to have a go at making it into a garment.  And because its a bit more of a rough texture yarn I wanted to use it as an outer layer style garment.  Enter Sylvi.  I loved the design on the back, and even more so the idea of making it pop out a bit with some color work, as a few knitters before me had done.  What I didn’t care about was the hood and that there were no pockets.  But with only $20 on the line… time to test out the ability to make modifications.

My modifications included Intarsia Cables and bud/leaves, an alternate cuff in the Celtic Vines pattern, Two front pockets, a separate button placket, and a shawl style collar. I found some coconut shell leaf buttons to finish it off. The front vine/flower was added as an afterthought i-cord design.  It fits well enough I wore it out to fall cider and apple fritters.  I just forgot to get any photos.  (And my other photos are late night cell phone shots which leave a bit to be desired)

And now something for the curious knitter…. what the interior of it looks like.

sylvi interior

I personally don’t think I am the best at weaving in ends, but to me this looks fine enough I don’t think I would line it.

Now as to the stash busting and how that is going…. I still have a couple more sweaters-worth of thrifted yarn.  One in a fingering weight black and another in a worsted weight beige that I am hoping to dye a more suited shade.  And then the latest yarn swap came in…. so 10 skeins out… and it looks like 7 skeins in.

Must… knit… faster