Sock-u-pied and Stash Flash

A normal year of sock knitting for me, is Sock Madness of 5 or 6 pairs plus a few extra pairs spread throughout the year for until now 10 pair a year.  So I am rather pleased with myself to say that I am now at 11 pairs of socks already this year.

You’ll notice I finished the second of the test knit socks.  The pattern, called Runway Socks, is now available and there is a discount code on the pattern page for the next few days if you want to make a pair of your own.  The tetris-y looking socks were the semi-final round for this years Sock Madness, Pentoeminoes. Alas, my East Coast team rival managed to best me with a finish while I was part way up the 2nd leg (they were toe up)

61LbUCyI-UL._SX413_BO1,204,203,200_Now, I would understand if you concluded that I was done making socks for the year, but I mentioned to my teammates how I had committed to making several pairs of Ludwigs from the Op Art Socks book and would be looking to knit all the socks from the book since I received it for my birthday last July.  So now I am committed to KAL the rest of the book.  If you want to join us for a rather casual KAL, the details are over in this Ravelry thread in the Sock Madness group. There will be two pattern options open for knitting each month and you can knit both, one or neither as your heart desires.  There are no prizes other than the satisfaction of knitting 19 pairs of socks with a group of other people all doing the same thing.

I did get out to a few shops during the LYS Tour in May. And Ben even joined me apparently to pick out more yarn for more socks. (This winter seemed to have created a sock wearing monster!)

The Orange in the first photo was used in the Runway Socks above.  The brown and the CoBaSi left of it have patterns spoken for them already too. The three left side yarns in the right photo have been earmarked for Ben.  They join an Opal and another Hazel Knits already in the stash with his name on them.

In non-sock news I have been putting in the rounds on my Glocinella and am about half way through the 2nd set of long leaves now. I still have over 80 rounds to go and I am hoping to finish that AND the KAL lace shawl AND the OpArt Sock by the end of July.

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In non-knit news, my house is mostly reassembled.  The main living areas downstairs and the Master and one Guest bedroom are back together (sans the grandfather clock).  My sewing machine is back at the work table and the shelves are together in the library.  The yarn stash has returned to its stash space, but I’m still sorting out the solution to my plethora of fabric boxes… which is probably why I haven’t been quilting lately. I am thinking I may give this month’s upcoming Quilt Shop Hop a pass.

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…..

Yarn Shop Hops and Swaps

Before I get into the yarn eye candy, let me start with a view of my 2016 sock collection from Sock Madness.

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Just like last year, by the time we reach the finals I have thoughts of designing a sock for the next time.  Technically I have until September, but thus far my pile of projects doesn’t look like it has an opening.

At any rate, I ended up out on Round 5 with the upper left socks, Eisregen.  And while they only took 13 days, those 13 days included a trip to Mount Rainier (we were hosting a guest), the redditgifts yarn swap, and my first LYS tour hop.  Which means I may have gotten a bit carried away on the swap.  She said crochet, not too fussy about yarn quality, and purple; do you know how many shades of purple there are? Way more than the five I sent, but I hope it was a good first swap for them.  I actually ended up receiving from the person I sent yarn to last year!  She sent me a skein she hand dyed herself.

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I’ve got it wound up and set aside with a gunmetal grey for what I think may turn into a pair of Twisted socks.

I did manage to contain myself in the yarn shopping. (My husband may not fully agree, but he wasn’t there so he didn’t see all the yarn I didn’t buy, did he?)

Here’s my first day haul:

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I specifically wanted to try the Smooshy with Cashmere since I really love my socks from last years madness which were a cashmere blend. The skein on the right is by a local dyer that I met to hand off the remnant from my Golden Waikimari socks and there is some up currently in their etsy shop. The two on the right are my first yarns with sparkles, since I don’t look at color labels I found myself at the register discussing how much I liked the second from left colorway and saying it reminded me of “80s rose wallpaper” its called Zombie… which is OK too.

On Day Two I may have found a couple crazy deals at a shops discount section.

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The three on the left all came from the same shop, but the navy is a mink and the white is a cashmere… and how do you leave such softness behind?  I was thinking maybe some lacey brioche project, though the white is significantly more yardage than the blue. The pale amethyst and mint on the lower left clearly has said it needs lace and beads and gets its shine from sea cell, which is basically a rayon made from seaweed.

So two days combined with a couple thrift shop pick ups and… my yarn stash is threatening to regrow. Thankfully the local energy co-op has someone new looking to make hats for charity, and some fellow knitters are doing stash busting projects so hopefully I can destash a bit yet this year.

On the fabric front, the annual quilt shop hop is happening next week. ¬.¬

I am not sure what happened but there are significantly fewer shops this year and looking at my fabric and yarn stashes I’m leaning towards not going this year.  I do like the fabric this year so I might have to visit one or two shops, but I think I won’t do the bus.

The Gothic Easter Bunny and the first mad socks

I may have mentioned before that I sometimes find thrift yarn shopping a bit fun.  It is probably not super great for my stash and keeping organized.  One of my prior buys had a bit of bulky yarn in it… which isn’t my typical use yarn and so it found itself filed in the same box as some others that might as well be called, “Interesting but, she’s just not that into you”.  Its probably worth noting that my very first knitting project yarn was frogged and currently lives in this box, so its not a case of them being bad yarns per se.

One part of my new years resolution was to sort through this box and Knit It or Quit It.  If the yarns don’t get knit (or at least project ideas picked for them) then its off to someone else.

 

And so with the trepidation of being only relatively certain the unlabeled bulky was wool… I set out to felt my first thing.  Just a simple bowl//basket shape with some beaded fur held double at the edges to start.  Then into the wash on hot with a pair of jeans….

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I call it my Gothic Easter Bunny Basket.  This one came out perfect (in my opinion) so fresh on the heels of my success I tried out a few more felted items using slip stitches and another yarn from the same thrift stash.  And well… here’s the before and after shots.

Not quite as sold on how these turned out, debating if I should try felting a bit more, or just give them a nice sweater shave…. Possibly the wool content was a bit more of a blend in these yarns.

There are a bit more of these yarns left, and if I can sort out where to get nice cork clog soles I’d totally want to try to make those.  So back into the puzzle box for you bulky yarns!

I finished my qualifying round of Sock Madness socks. As is traditional when speed knitting.. the first finished photos may suffer from the lighting in the later hours when they were completed. So I took another photo today when there was a bit more sunshine.

Now I am working my way through the mountains and into the goblin kingdom on this months chart of the Hobbit scarf. (Kind of looking forward to finding the ring!)

 

Gotta have Goals: 2016 Edition

The past couple years I have done fairly well at setting and keeping my crafting goals.  I don’t always hit the overall for the year goal, but I definitely make forward progress.

Its my first Christmas as an officially married woman and my husband gave me this:

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So let’s tackle that first and say… we are getting a machine suitable for quilting larger projects!  A step up the ladder from my Janome DC2011 which I love.

I have another seven quilts, some started, some planned that I would like to tackle this year.  I have one for a gift (Movie theme), and the guest room (greens and yellows).  I have one to use up my white strip scraps from my snowman, and one to use up general scraps with the latest discovered tiling hexagon.  And I have three that have started, including Knight’s Tour, Wedding Wishes and my now nearly infamously languishing in WIP land, Field of Stars.

On the knitting front, I have more socks (Going to go in for Sock Madness again I think) and some more lace, and trying to find the bottom of that second overflow stash box!

I have some great patterns and yarn combos in my queue.

I’d like to get a few more designs out of my head and onto a pattern as well.

And now onto the blog and not so crafty front….

Last year I posted 20 posts, which means a few months I just posted once… so this year I am going to aim for at least twice a month updates.  This may mean a few more works in progress instead of dumps of finished items, but we shall see how it shakes out.

I also want to work on getting my craft space (which also flows a bit into my guest room) a bit more organized and usable. I want to read a few more books, and play a few more games too.

 

Know Your Fiber: Grow Your Own Yarn Edition

Remember when I was talking about Yarn Swapping previously?  Well my received yarn included some simply amazing 100% Bamboo yarn.

Its like they went out on an autumn drive, waves the yarn in the air and voila!

Its like they went out on an autumn drive, waved the yarn in the air and voila!

So this got me and a few of my friends curious as to how exactly one makes Bamboo yarn.   Consider if you will that Bamboo is indeed very woody in nature, even though it technically is a grass.  How exactly do you get silky softness from that?

Bamboo, staple of panda edibles and amazing wire work ninja fighting in the movies... and yarn.

Bamboo, staple of panda edibles and amazing wire work ninja fighting in the movies… and yarn.

Well after some digging around… there are two ways to make bamboo yarn.  One method is shared with making linen(flax), hemp and ramie plant based yarns.With that method, the fibrous material is soaked typically in water sometimes with added microbial help, to break down the outer hard layer and soften the under-layer of the stem, called the bast fibers.  This is called retting.   The long fibrous strands are then dried, and spun into yarn.

Another method is used to make what gets classified as more of a semi-synthetic fiber, such as rayon(wood), modal(wood), viscose rayon (wood), Lyocell/Tencel (also wood), etc – apparently we wear a lot of trees.

Wood you like to see my future yarn stash?

Wood you like to see my future yarn stash?

In this method, chips of wood/chunks of bamboo/bits o’ cotton (didn’t see that non-wood one coming did you?) are treated to a chemical bath to break apart the cellulose fibers that make up the plant and dissolve them into a pulp.  They can then be treated with other chemicals to add flame retardation or other desirable qualities if so desired.  And then finally… the pulp is then extruded through spinnerets into an acid base that hardens the fiber strands to prepare them for spinning.

Now… lest one of you points out that thus far I’ve only briefly mentioned the most famous of plant fibers… cotton yarn is not made using either of these methods.  Cotton has natural cellulose chains.  Whereas all the prior wood  was only about 40-50% cellulose, cotton is 90%.  Which means that you can comb/card and spin those fibers directly into yarn.

Oh plants... so helpful in giving us yarns for our friends allergic to the animal fibers.

Oh plants… so helpful in giving us yarns for our friends allergic to the animal fibers.

To be clear I do not know which method was used to make my yarn.. and honestly it doesn’t really matter… its a beautiful gift and I can’t wait to knit with it!  If I were to describe it… I’d say its like cotton and silk got together and had a love child.

Yarn Swapping, Assassiknitting, and a Nyan Cowl Pattern too!

Crafting can at times be very social, and yet very independent work too.  Its the range from knitting/sewing circles to just me at home with my machine/needles.  It can be very easy to skew to one end or the other and at times I feel a distinct need to correct the trajectory.  So this year I’m engaging a bit more with the people side of things.

I started with a couple of yarn swaps.  Yarn swaps are pretty simple to explain, everyone buys yarn for someone, and so everyone gets something they hopefully like.  I have 3 swaps so far, two completed, and one still on-going.  (I’ve sent mine, but still quite some time until shipping deadlines)

For which I have gained some great yarn from my first two swaps.

After the first couple swaps I joined in on an Assassiknitting group project. Assassiknitting is where everyone works the same project, with the goal of completing yours and mailing it out to “kill” whom you are knitting for.  At which point you take on their project and try to eliminate their target…. all before you get eliminated yourself.  Our project was to knit up a Grumpasaurus.  I knit for someone in Pennsylvannia, and managed to get my Grumpy guy knit all in the first day and out the door faster than I could take a photo with his feet attached.

Curse his sudden yet inevitable betrayal!

Curse his sudden yet inevitable betrayal!

However… my assassin was also a speedy knitter and completed and shipped her grump the first day.  She also lived in the same state, so I was sadly… eliminated.  Here’s the culprit:

Which brings us to the third, yet on-going yarn swap.  I have already mailed mine, and I know that there are a few people who have commented about the Nyan Cowl and my thoughts of writing up a pattern.  One of those people was the person I was to gift to.  So I finished up assembling my bits of notes into something resembling a pattern and sent it on its way.

Since my giftee has now received  her package of loot, I am happy to now offer the Nyan Cowl Pattern to everyone!

And YOU get a Nyan, and YOU get a Nyan, And YOU, and YOU, and YOU....

And YOU get a Nyan, and YOU get a Nyan, And YOU, and YOU, and YOU….

 

Nyan Cowl (PDF)

Please note that this pattern has had very limited test knitting.  Please notify me if you find any errors or mistakes, or just if       something isn’t 100% clear.   Unfortunately I do not have yardage requirements, but I can say that I used less than a single skein of each color, and you can use my first project which I have updated to include specific yarns I used.

Happy Nyaning!

 

 

 

PS – While I was anxiously waiting to post the Nyan Cowl pattern, I found I’d written up most of my market bag pattern at one point… so I finished writing that up too.  I’m calling it Misscarlotta Goes to Market and would love to have some people try it out.