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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Everything is happening, so Nothing is happening

Life never seems to happen at a steady pace, it surges and wanes into tides.  Its not that there isn’t progress in a wane period, its just that we mark the starts and ends of things.

Which means that I have plenty of WIP to post, just not much for the done pile.  I actually did finish two projects, but one is a gift and the other is… well its brown.

Now keep in mind I LIKE the chocolate brown and it is 100% Alpaca so its soft and warm.  This yarn was languishing in my stash for the past two years from a yarn swap and ever subsequent yarn swap I have this extreme onset of guilty feelings about not having used yarns from previous swaps or gifts.  But I’m not sold on its final form and perhaps I’ll just have to frog it and start over again.

So onto the WIPS!

I was determined to finish those blocks by my anniversary, so I set our a few days to finish off the last few. They need trimmed up and I am considering adding some inner vining borders, but overall here’s where we are.  New goal is to have the top and backing done and ready for quilting by Christmas.

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I am technically still on schedule for my cross stitch project since I am working on the 3rd quarter in the 3rd quarter, but it feels like I’m a bit behind.  My hobbit scarf is actually behind by about 60 rows.  We are currently riding in barrels on the way to Lake Town, but if I can get to the Last Light of Durin’s day by the last light of August 31 then I’ll be caught up again.

Meanwhile in the “it seemed like a good idea at the time” and “good lord what can I do for the Ravellnic games” depts…  A fellow knitter started a color work socks informal KAL.  And I started two different socks and then they got set aside to join that one sock on the last round I was in of Sock Madness 9 in May of 2015.  So that’s my challenge… to finish up all of my partial color work socks.

You might recognize that blue yarn in the last sock… its from my most recent completed yarn swap.  I am midway in another swap.  My recipient has already received what I sent and took great photos.  And I really can’t wait to see what shows up at my door.  Until then… back to socks and scarves and stitchery things.

 

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.

Are we done yet? A post about Progress Tracking

Let me be up front, if you came for some finish photos, well… there won’t be any here today.  In fact when I first thought about making this post I wasn’t even sure there would be knitting or quilting in it.

Confession time; we are now midway into the second week of the year and I have not knit or quilted a thing! Last Wednesday I had nothing to post in the WIP weekly thread for knitting and it surprised even me.   Taking just a moment now and then to track how your projects is good for the soul.  Unfortunately, we sometimes want to scrub our beginning efforts from the record.  I was reminded of this when I went through my stash for yarns I want to use up or donate this year (I’m calling it my Knit It or Quit It stash) found the yarn from my first scarf, which I at one point had frogged. Its a bit of a shame really… and now I am going to find something new to make with it.IMG_20160104_104007

Tracking progress both on an individual project and on abilities over time doesn’t need to be complex.  A large percentage of the population actually have cameras in their phones at their fingertips.  When you finish for the day, or get to a spot you want to track, just snap a quick photo.

Maybe you turned a heel (always feels so satisfying) or got to a point where you could finally see the pattern or texture (and maybe you frog it or keep going) or you are trying out a layout… it doesn’t matter the reason. Taking a few minutes to make a note or snap a photo is worth it.  When you look back across the span of your skill journey you see how your latest socks with its cables/beads/no pattern design compares to that first pair of plain stockinette with a heel turn you just had to believe in the pattern because your brain didn’t yet wrap around the concept yet all fit together.  For my knitting, I upload these to Ravelry. (Pro Tip, if you tag your projects with the year you have a nice view with yardage of what you have done for the year too!) For my quilting, I file them all in a folder/album on Google, since my phone is already set to auto-update to there.  Once a week or so I just go in and move the relevant photos to their albums.

You don’t need to master photography and only take beauty shots either. Its ok to show the wrong side of your work.  In fact, there are times when as a crafter that’s exactly what other people want to see.  Sometimes its to see how that pattern fits a body shape, or how a color variation (variegated/stripes) may look.  Maybe you knit it up and can then show visually what you are having trouble with and ask for help.

And.. because we all know I wasn’t not crafting… here’s my latest WIP.

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My in-laws bought me a cross stitch kit off of my wishlist for Christmas.  Based on my math its final design is in the neighborhood of 50k stitches.  I have already made a few mistakes, corrected a few, and am probably doing it all wrong according to at least one person.  But isn’t it fun to watch it grow?

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.

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!

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?