Just keep Knitting

Weddings sure do eat up a bunch of time out of a month!  So alas this time I am a bit light on the finished items, and have lots of Works in Progress to share (WIPs).

First up… I am continuing my stash busting, and tackling some yarn I thrifted a few years ago.  These big hanks take up most of one of the closet stash boxes.  They are slowly becoming a sweater with some modifications to give it a collar and pockets.  I am up to the right front, pockets and the collar to complete.

Well this is rather complex, and a bit bulky, so less transportable… so I started some other project too.  It may be getting out of hand.

There is a baby blanket from some stash acrylic in a modified tree tops style.

ground beneath her feet

And a couple row by row quilt rows:

umbrellas and boots

I’m a bit of a ways from being done with those last few projects.  Hopefully they will show up in a blog post her soon…..ish.

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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.

Post-Op: A Luscious Sweater Story

Way back in April I cast on my Luscious Sweater.  It is all knit on size 2 needles in fingering weight yarn and its pretty much all stockinette… which meant lots and lots of pretty repetitive knitting.   At first I had high hopes that I would have my sweater done by my trip in June.

There were errors in the pattern.  Simple stuff that honestly felt like the pattern needed just a bit more proofing, but I was only the second person on Ravelry to cast on, and the other person hadn’t posted updates since they started, so I was determined to keep on.   (For the record, the first two errors I verified with the pattern publisher, but after that I decided to save them up for one email at the end.  I did post every issue I had on my project page.  I believe that most of my issue came from stitching the non-standard larger size.)

Day before I leave on my trip and I’m casting off my last piece and blocking… spirits are high!  I’m seaming up the other pieces because I am totally going to have this for my trip!

And then.. I pin the last piece in place and discover….. the two tails,  do not line up.

So disappointed

So disappointed

And this isn’t a minor off by a few rows, made a small error no one else will notice issue… this is a one side falls at the knee.. and the other side drags on the floor.

So I set it aside and went on my trip and it was an INCREDIBLE time.

And I came back and I pondered and plotted and wondered if it was possible to fix this train wreck or should I just frog it… all 13 balls of yarn.

In the end.. I decided to fix it.

I threaded some 10 weight crochet thread through my main drape section from the side seam to the exterior as a life line:

Its called a life line for a reason!

Prepare the patient for surgery

I carefully un stitched the long side seam of the main drape:

Preparing the patient for surgery

How “Unseaming” !

And then…. I cut off the first tail of the drape….

Post scissor application

Post scissor application

I carefully picked up every stitch along my row and set out to knit again!  I started out with an additional set of short rows, because I wanted to make sure that the drape tapered a bit more towards the knee.  (I’m not certain I actually needed to do this… it just felt like I should and at this point… the sweater was unwearable so what’s the harm of trying imo.)  My thought was that the issue was that the taper of the main drape wasn’t at a sharp enough angle, so I increased my decreases by half again.  I’d left my shorter side drape pinned in place so I had a comparison for length to aim for.   I got to the end of the new tail of the drape and laid the sweater out for comparison.

The measure here is lined up with the new tail and the side drape point.

The measure here is lined up with the new tail and the side drape point.

It looked to be significantly closer in alignment than the original!  I knew since my side drape was just pinned at this point, that I could adjust that piece as well, and so this looked to be markedly successful!  So I got out my scissors and amputated the other side of the drape tail.  I followed the same basic directions of short row set followed by increased decreases.  I did lay out my sweater repeatedly to check if I was on-target for matching.

So after stitching a new front tail… I re-seamed my long seam, and stitched down the side drape and….

SUCCESS!

SUCCESS!

It is absolutely much more symmetrical!

Now… I am a little bit uncertain how I feel about this sweater, but I’m not sure if that’s the taint of the earlier disappointment or something else.  I’m wearing it today… and we shall see.  Here’s some wearing photos so you can see the fit.

Show in standard Misscarlotta not-quite-focus

Show in standard Misscarlotta not-quite-focus

And the other side:

Front knee is slightly bent.

Front knee is slightly bent.

So there you have it… the final results of Doctah Knittah!

As a side note… I am so very glad this wasn’t my first sweater and that Ben’s Ben was so successful, because as I look at future knitting projects, prior results make a huge impact.  I haven’t yet made a second pair of socks… because the first pair was so dang boring on sock #2.

Uh, we had a slight knitting malfunction, but uh… we’re fine….finally updating on the Sweater and Travel knits

So last post I was saying how I was going to probably not finish my Luscious sweater in time… but I will have you know that dedication and several seasons of TV episodes will certainly take you pretty far.  I actually finished all the pieces to my sweater, and was starting to assemble on the 13th.

So stylish!

woohoo!  Look at how cool it is looking!

I am not a tall person.  I come in at just under 5ft 5in.  And after assembling the main drape, I tested out the size and it seemed rather long.  But ever the optimist… I hoped that it would just be a little long and some of that would be corrected in the rest of the assembly.  So I added in the sleeve section and tried it on again.  The tail on me would be dragging on the floor.

......*sigh*.......

……*sigh*…….

Could it be that I was just too short?  I pinned up the side drape…. and nope… it was just the right length.  There is about a foot of difference between the two points.  So needless to say… I didn’t take my sweater on vacation.  So now I am working on garnering up the internal fortitude and creativity in an effort to try and fix it.   As to what went wrong… well I can’t be certain, since I consider myself a more intermediate knitter.  This is after all my second sweater.  My theory, which is based solely on the errors I have found (first two were confirmed by the company that published the pattern – the remaining errors I have still to submit and figured I would collect them all in one email at the end) is that this sweater was not test knit in the larger sizes, and the issue lies someplace in that particular area.   The details of my issues you can read about on this projects Ravelry page.

And so… I did say I was setting it aside while I was traveling and going to work on a shawl, and learn the art of chart reading anyway… right?

About that……. well starting a lace chart project at 3AM at the airport is probably not the wisest idea.  I should have learned from the myriad of times I picked up and put down the Branching Out portions of the Family Tree Baby Blanket while on various flights.  But no… I cast on and got to the second row of the chart and found I’d already made a mistake someplace.  So in Amsterdam I frogged those few rows and cast on again.  And I knit the first 14 rows between there and here right after we got back with our jet lag brain.

But in review… it looks like I have a mistake someplace.  The first section feather points look all nice and pointy:

Kind of a terrible picture... but you get the idea here.

Kind of a terrible picture… but you get the idea here.

But when you get into the second section something has gone clearly awry… my feather points look like a pair of dutch-boy pantaloons.

Seriously?!  ¬.¬

Seriously?! ¬.¬

So its kinda looking like a second frogging.  (For those not in the knitting know… its called frogging because you “Rip-it” out.)  Which brings us to a new joke I heard while in Amsterdam….  You shouldn’t try to explain puns to kleptomaniacs.  They take things literally.

I will see myself out….

Taking Flight: Knitting for the birds and airplanes

So let’s say you find yourself in the enviable position of taking a vacation to foreign lands, and you find yourself facing a 5 hour flight followed by an 8 hour flight.  And somewhere down the line of trip planning you decide that a fair portion of that 13+ transit hours could be spent knitting… and then you wonder about if they even allow knitting needles on flights.

Well first let me say that if you live in the US, the TSA has given the knitting needle OK; however, cutting implements are a whole other matter.  But when one is planning an international trip, one has to consider the other countries… and that’s where it becomes a little more of a “maybe” situation.  You can send your project off in a self addressed envelope if they turn your needles away, but if you’ve just spent a month knitting up half a sweater the idea you might find yourself waiting for the postman for the other half just doesn’t sound like a good time.*

So while I had high hopes when I started of actually wearing my Luscious Sweater on this trip, its time to admit that the project will need to wait until I return.

I did finish up the main drape section!

I did finish up the main drape section!

So now its time to pull out some back up plans.  A project that won’t be too big so it only takes a couple balls… yet big enough to keep you occupied for several hours on a plane and during vacation down time.  My solution… a shawl or two!

 ~ And thus we come to the bird portion of our knitting blog. ~

Not that long ago I was thinking to myself that it would be pretty amazing to have some bird colored yarn.  The Stellar’s Jay Vibrant Blue and Black, the Kingfisher’s Teal and Rust… or the Female Evening Grosbeak:

Evening Grosbeaks are primarily monogamous, so Fellas if you like it you better put a chirp on it.

Evening Grosbeaks are primarily monogamous, so Fellas if you like it you better put a chirp on it.

I am hoping that this Rock Candy Colorway by Sockease will do the trick.

Oh oh Oh!

Oh oh Oh!

And my plan is to make it into a shawl called Gamayun Bird out of it.   Since I’m a bit of an optimist in my knitting (hence the unfinished aforementioned sweater) I also bought some other lace yarn for another potential project… but you will have to wait until I cast that on for an update.

The Grosbeak males are a much more vivid yellow.

The Grosbeak males are a much more vivid yellow.

 

*All that stuff about the Postman… well let’s be honest, earlier this month we received an envelope with no stamp, no return address, and the wrong zipcode.  The vast majority of the time they certainly get it right!

Enter the Entrelac Zone (and some Luscious Progress)

I took a face your Fears challenge to learn Entrelac.  Which if you are unfamiliar with its a style of knitting that turns out looking like a basket weave texture that you get by picking up and binding off (by knitting combining two stitches into one in pattern) which is unlike counterpanes where you make each unit separate and then assemble.  On the whole most patterns seem to stick with smaller blocks and just knit along for texture, but there are a few items that are really unique out there like the Forest Path Stole which combines blocks of lacy texture.

Most people start out with a nice simple scarf… but I am not most people so I went with… the Nyan Cowl.

Technically I have not finished the Nyan Cowl as I mean to finish the poptart as a nice little pocket for toting around something small, such as your ipod or secret pocket of poptarts or whatever, so that and the finishing touch of affixing the tail to the front need to be done.   I am debating if I should write up this guy as a pattern since he is a bit cute if I do say so myself.

Since I wasn’t quite 100% on how seriously I should have actually approached the challenge, I also decided that I’d start a small baby blanket with the still large quantity of baby yarns I have been gifted in my stash so here is the early preview:

Something a bit more traditional than the Nyan

Something a bit more traditional than the Nyan

I also have some updates on my Luscious Sweater since my earlier post of just yarn.  I have cast on the main section, found a couple of errors in the pattern (detailed in the Rav link) and I am now working my way up and over the shoulder from the V-neck base marker.  These photos are earlier than that, but they give an alright impression of how the fabric of the knit is coming together.

Early progress of the "wrong" side showing the edge and the main stitches twined together

Early progress of the “wrong” side showing the edge and the main stitches twined together

Right side up, front bottom edge of the sweater

Right side up, front bottom edge of the sweater

I am actually on about the 4th ball of the main color (out of 13) and so knitting along there are 3 balls attached to the project (Each edge in the contrast and the main color) to which I am thinking someone needs to invent some stackable snap-together yarn bowls.  Think on that just a bit… you get to where you need to twist you just snap them apart, twine them the right way and re-snap them together.

Progress Updates, Future Yarn projects and a little bit more

Firstly let me start out by saying… I have been knitting things since March… just they have been very little things… or not done yet things.

Little things like this cute doily out of crochet thread on needles I never remember the size of because my needle gauge tool only goes to the first 0.  (You’d think a single 0 would be enough, but apparently the world is not prepared for negative numbers in needle sizing.):

Pattern is called Auge

Pattern is called Auge

This is not your granny’s doily though…. This baby is not soon to be draped over an armchair or under the candy dish. This is your first cup of coffee or glass of water by your bed… because that’s just how big it is.

That's no doily! That's a coaster!

That’s no doily! That’s a coaster!

I have also been working on my double knit scarf and I’m a bit further along than these photos as I am now nearly done with flake number six.

Delicate White flakes against a dark green background.

Side A: Delicate White flakes against a dark green background.

IMAG1061

Side B: Powerful Green flakes on a snowy white background

So I think with my current progress I am at least past the hump of the middle of a scarf project.

Now I must confess I have still not gotten any further on my bird needlework project and every time I’m up in the library room with my sewing I remind myself I really ought to finish it up.

But in the mean time…. I did say I was going to make two sweaters this year, one for Ben and one for myself.  And I’m only half done with that project… so I took the next step and… couldn’t narrow it down past two designs I really liked.  One is called Spoke, and the other is called Luscious.  Well I figured the easiest method since they took two different kind of yarns was to browse through my various yarn options and see if I couldn’t have the yarn decide.  (Each take a different yarn weight)

Well the yarn decided alright…. it decided I was making two sweaters!

A Future Spoke Sweater!  (and a side of conductive thread for gloves)

A Future Spoke Sweater!
(and a side of conductive thread for gloves)

Future Luscious.  The heathered color on the left is the main body color, with the darker as the trim.

Future Luscious. The heathered color on the left is the main body color, with the darker as the trim.

As if that wasn’t enough yarn… I got a nice reminder that I had Jimmy Beans Bucks from some yarn I bought when working on Debora.   So I did what any good knitter would and bought a beautiful skein of lace weight yarn.

I am leaning towards the Frozen Leaves Shawl with this, but it means a full charted pattern.

I am leaning towards the Frozen Leaves Shawl with this, but it means a full charted pattern.

And that brings us to the end of the updates and progress… and you are wondering what exactly I meant by a little bit more.  Well…. I was contacted recently by someone that is getting ready to cast on a Debora blanket!  And to me… well that’s pretty awesome!   If you’ve ever watched Howl’s Moving Castle, then you will know what I mean when I say that’s the “I like your spark!” compliment.

So Meta – Sweater Edition

This post is a bit later than I wanted, but I’m blaming Portland, OR since that’s where I was when I finished this project.

So this year I decided it was time to try some more advanced knittings… things that aren’t flat or simple socks/hats were high on my list.  Things like, a sweater for Ben and one for myself. So naturally I went looking for a sweater design for Ben that I felt would be challenging yet within my skill basis and lo and behold…. it was named Ben.

That’s right… I knit a Ben for my Ben so he can be Ben in his Ben.   And I took pictures today (using a phone owned by Ben no less):

Yo Dawg!  I  heard you like Ben!

Yo Dawg! I heard you like Ben!

Now part way through this sweater knitting plan I had heard there was some sort of sweater knitting curse in which a person knitting for their significant other before they are wed would end the relationship before the sweater was done.  I unwisely laughed at this with Ben and from that point he kind of approached the whole sweater project with some trepidation… but I’m happy to report, we survived the sweater curse!

IMG_20130308_095810

So here’s a Ben in a Ben taken on a phone owned by Ben, in front of photos taken by Ben.

The sleeves are a bit long if you dont’ roll the cuffs, but they are symmetrical and it does fit.

So next up… I’m deciding which sweater I want to knit for myself.

What to expect in 2013

Well last year I set myself the goal of one Christmas stocking a month from January to October and it went pretty well.  I sold a few of the stockings, and hopefully someone will take advantage of this coupon code “InWithTheNew” and save themselves 25% on those I have left in the etsy shop!

So this year  I thought it might be good to set myself some of those crafty goals again… so here’s what I know I want to do in 2013:

I’ve accepted a commission on 18 itty bitty red birds for one of my aunts Christmas Trees.  The pattern is available on ravelry, my only difference is that instead of yarn I used size 5 DMC floss on what I think are my size 00 knitting needles (I swear I thought I was going to bend those things as I was going along!)

This tree soon to be populated with a flock of red birds

This tree soon to be populated with a flock of red birds

I’d also like to tackle my first sweaters.  I want to make one for myself and one for Ben.  For him, I’ve picked out my pattern… and its aptly named… Ben!

I'm gonna make a Ben for my Ben so he can Ben in his Ben!

I’m gonna make a Ben for my Ben so he can be Ben in his Ben!

On the Quilting front, I’ve picked fabric and cut for my first square on the grand King sized Quilt I want to make for our bed:

I picked up a couple of these Jelly Rolls at the Labor Day Sale and then did the math on downscaling some star blocks to fit the roll cuts

I picked up a couple of these Jelly Rolls at the Labor Day Sale and then did the math on downscaling some star blocks to fit the roll cuts

This is my first Block cut and just starting to piece.

This is my first Block cut and just starting to piece.

Because its going to be so big, my plan is to piece it and then take a class and quilt it on a long arm machine at one of the local(ish) quilt shops!   If you want to follow along, just as in prior cases… there is an album started for this one.

And lastly, but certainly not least… I want to start making gloves and mittens in a similar style to last years stockings.   Which means lots of fiddling until I find what works best in that arena.

So… Wish me luck!