31 January, 2011

January 2011

Yes, kittens, I will continue to track yardage in 2011.

The year is off to a decent start. I had an unofficial, unambitious goal of knitting 1,000yds in January. I managed to meet it and exceed it by 70yds. Considering all of the sewing, baking, and other things going on here, that's not too shabby. True, it's low for me (my average month seems to be about 1400yds), but it's not so low that I feel like I got nothing done.

I think 1,000yds a month may be my goal post for every month in 2011. Once I start crocheting again, that number will be blasted out of the water. For months where I'm only knitting, it's enough to move on projects while still doing other things I enjoy. I'm not sure if this is that "balance" thing I'm striving for, but it seems to be closer. It's felt nice to be able to work on different things, and I'm even starting to work reading back into the rotation. I definitely haven't been stressed out about knitting at all this month; that may be a first in a long time.

Yardage Totals 2011

January: 1071 yds

Year to date: 1,071 yds or O.61 miles

27 January, 2011

Asking for opinions...

Kittens, I *think* I know what direction I'm taking this, but I'd like a second opinion(s) on the matter:

This is for one of the WIPs I teased you with yesterday. In our home, the vote is now at 2-to-1, with The Boy agreeing with me which direction to take his blanket. Have I even blogged about it? Well, you may recognize that bright yellow-green. The rest of the palette has been picked out, but the question is which blue to use?

Here is the inspiration blanket from Land of Nod.

Berroco Vintage (which I'm using) has colors that match up really well with the greens, brown, and orange, but none of the blues are quite the same as the one in the bed spread.

If this were your blanket kitten, which blue would you choose?

26 January, 2011

Block 6

Ooh, see that, kittens? I barely get a knitting post out and BAM! Quilting posts again. I'm tricksy like that.

This is block 06 of 27. Now that I have a much stronger sense of direction for the colors, these are getting easier to piece, and I'm enjoying the process more. I finished this one last night and then proceeded onto a new project...Block 02, revisited.

Kittens, if you can recall, Block 02 looked like this...

and I was very unhappy with it. When I first dreamt up this quilt, I wanted to use a very slightly green-blue with bright red. And for some reason, that idea never left me. I washed up my red and green-blue fabrics, cut a couple, and tried to work them into this quilt. You gotta keep 'em separated. For real. These colors did not mix nicely and fought for the block. Sections went nicely together, but that was as good as it got.

This one was the worst offender of the two I was going to just "chuck." And by chuck, I mean use for something else. I didn't want to lose the segments that I liked, but trying to figure out how to deal with them was giving me a headache. Because you see, kittens, I suffer from this chronic condition called, "laziness." Anytime a project requires a lot of tedious picking out and repinning of seams--or you know, pinning them in the first place--I tend to scoff at the idea and drop it. I hate losing work I've already done. I have started to take baby steps in the right direction. This last week I've been seen ripping out a seam here or there and redoing it...or taking extra care to pin pieces together and ensure they won't be moving while I sew. But redo a whole block? That's just crazy talk.

But then I had an idea. An awful, putzy idea. What if I didn't rip out the entire block? What if I...

grafted new pieces on top of the old? And sewed them along the lines I'll later use to quilt the block?!


This is either genius, or a whole new level of avoidance and laziness. I'm not sure which yet.

Regardless, it worked after some fussiness, and I decided to make over the other two strips that weren't jiving with the way I wanted these blocks to look.

So much better. See how much happier the left side of that block is? This was the point where I went to bed in the wee hours of this morning, but by early this afternoon...

The whole thing was complete.

I'll be honest: this still isn't my favorite block of the ones I've completed. But it is so. much. better. then it was before I made the fixes to it.

Block 03 will also be getting a minor face lift after I decide what fabric to graft on. I think it should be OK with replacing just the middle square.

WIP-it Wednesday: 04 of 52

I may subtitle this, "The Boring Edition." Because seriously, none of my knits have progressed to the point that they're exciting to look at. But they *do* exist, and I shall prove it to you. (I know, it was a dirty trick to take a knitting blog and suddenly throw a bunch of quilt blocks at you! ♥ I swear, I'm still knitting.)

Ooh, thrilling.

I'll end up blogging this one in more detail in the near future. As you can see, kittens, there's a provisional cast on...and a lot of garter stitch. 95" worth of garter stitch, if my math isn't telling dirty lies. Once this bit is knit, I'll have my yardage numbers to run with and get the other colors ordered.

All in due time though.

This one isn't the easiest to make out. Dark tweedy goodness is hiding the shaping I'm putting in. This is a test knit for fallmasche on Ravelry.

24 January, 2011

Block 5

Kittens, I hope to finish piecing the blocks for the top of this quilt before I start piecing for an e-course I'm taking in February and March. The Mister will be off doing some unpleasant training during that time, so I figured it would be best to keep myself as busy as possible; I hate having too many WIPs at the same time though.

( I apologize for the color quality on these latest pictures; I can not get the hang of Photoshop Elements, and I'm waiting on getting my usual program re-installed. So if you're looking at the same fabric and how different it is from picture to picture, well...I'm trying. :P )

23 January, 2011

Weekend WIPing: Block 4

Kittens, there hasn't been a ton of crafting going on this week. However, I did manage to sew one more block of our bed quilt (04 of 27 needed unless I can find another "cheat" block or 3), and I did manage to piece together the other 11 blocks that will be embroidered during my Block of the Month project.

They aren't really all that interesting though. I pieced every one of them exactly the same so I could do faster, chain piecing. It took less then 3 hours to finish and press them all. For the most part, they're nice and neat. Minus 2 perfect ones, they're all slightly off (2-3 corners match up, but the other 1-2 don't), but I was expecting that. Most of this fabric was bought ages ago from Jo-Anns or other cheapy places. So it has a lower thread count and doesn't hold shape very nicely. I'm just hoping they won't unravel and pop seams like our "Frankenquilt." Kittens, in all things the quality of your materials really does matter. Just sayin'.

Here's block 4 of our new bed quilt. I can't decide if this one or block 1 is my favorite so far. This one is definitely the color scheme I want to stick with for the rest of the blocks. Looking back at block 1, it is as well. Orange, aqua, brown, and grey with cream and white seems to be the winner.

As I get closer to the finish, I'll decide if I want to keep the two blocks I used some of the red in or if I'll rip them apart....maybe make pillows with them? Who knows. They're not terrible by any means, just the red is incongruous with what I'm going for. I guess it will depend on what I have leftover how they look together when I go to piece the top.

19 January, 2011

WIP-it Wednesday: 03 of 52

Kittens, you've probably already noticed that there isn't a photo in this week's WIP post. The answer is quite simple: I've had several mis-starts this week. They all ended with frogging. In the wee hours of this morning, I cast on one project and knit...one row. Nothing exciting to look at. Then, I was sent a pattern I'm test knitting, so I'm off to cast that one on.

I am working, just have nothing to show for it at the moment.

16 January, 2011

Birdie Stitches: January 2011

In an earlier post, I had mentioned in passing that I was considering joining a quilting/embroidering block of the month project. Friday, I decided it was a great idea and got started. I'm working on this for The Girl and using up some very old stash of purple, orchid, and pink fabrics. (Some of them have been marinating in my tote for over a decade.) I also pulled out some Kona I had purchased for a skirt pattern and never got around to making. Stashbuster!

I haven't done a lot of embroidery to date, so I'm pleased with how it's turning out. I'm going to make all 12 blocks exactly like this one in terms of the patchwork border. I also plan to enlarge the quilt; as written, it will be big enough for snuggling under, but not quite big enough for The Girl's bed. (She's still in a toddler bed but is insistent that she needs a big girl bed and yesterday.) It will not require drastic resizing to make it work for a full size bed, so I'm sure I'll figure it out by the time the last block is done in December.

This is something new for me. When it comes to crafting and creating, I tend to be more of a Hare then a Tortoise. Anything longer term then 4-5 weeks loses my interest and I feel like it's stagnated. If something takes a long time, I worry that it's a sign that I'm no good at it, and I may as well give up. I'm not going to win or be the best. (This could lead into an interesting discussion about having my childhood [and honestly, most children's upbringing] focused on achievement rather then persistence and hard work, but that may not be a topic for this blog. It's definitely something I'm flipping with my own children and how I raise them.)

So here it is! Block 01 of 12. You'll be seeing one from me each month, kittens, as well as the finished quilt in the winter.

12 January, 2011

WIP-it Wednesday: 02 of 52

It's already been a week, kittens. This is what I have on needles:

I'm in the mood to knit toys...for now. Not much else going on, just getting ready to start a second quilt/embroidery project. It's a Block of the Month and simple, so I thought I'd give it a go.

09 January, 2011

Blocks 2 &3

Hey, kittens. I hope you all are enjoying your weekend. I finished the socks I've been knitting and working on quilt blocks. I've been doing both at a pretty leisurely pace. :P

Each block has elements I really like it in...and things I'm not so hot about. A good chunk of the problem is that I have very few truly dark or light valued fabrics, so it's been challenging to make this quilt. I'm definitely learning lessons on planning and fabric buying. (I'm also seeing why quilters have such large stashes. I have a large sized tote full of fabric and this has been difficult.)

While a bit more random then I'd like, I'm feeling pretty good about this so far. So I'll keep on truckin'.

07 January, 2011

Fabric Friday

One of my goals for the year is to finally make a new bed quilt for The Mister and me.

I originally planned to make a pattern out of Material Obsession and fell in love with "Retro Starburst." (Anyone who knows me well enough to know of my love affair with mid-century modern--starbursts in particular--should not be surprised by this.) This was about 3 years ago, back in the days before I knew about popular (out of print) quilting fabric lines, and little did I know, I fell in love with one in that pattern. After correspondence with the author of the book (who owns a quilt shop in Australia by the same name), I was informed of the name of my material obsession (oh kittens, I can't help myself sometimes): Flea Market Fancy by Denise Schmidt. This would be the place to cue the Audience Groan.

I'm no stranger to hard-to-find, hard-to-buy objects, but FMF was too much for me. I tried to find it everywhere. Random Google searches. Etsy. Ebay. Over the course of three years, I've managed to purchase some of the less desirable fabrics, and even lucked out in a score of the large scale, blue and red floral, but I was never able to get all of the line I would have liked. I became bitter and decided to move on, dumping the pattern after a substitute line didn't strike my fancy as I had hoped. (Deer Valley (in azure) by Joel Dewberry, if anyone is curious. The colors were just too subdued and while pretty, I really wanted the vibrant colors of the FMF.) I dumped it even though I had gone through the pains of purchasing some of the Prints Charming starburst blocks from Material Obsession and having them shipped here.

So I tried to work with Deer Valley and could never seem to find the right pattern for it. Eventually, I started purchasing random fabrics I thought would coordinate, but almost always, they just didn't. It really is a hard line to match, except with other Dewberry lines and SURPRISE! Those are popular and hard to find as well.

While my mother was visiting in July and August, I decided to give Unfurnished a whirl. Sadly, it's poorly written and gave me a hard time. Shockingly, it also gave my mother, who is a veteran sewer and quilter, a headache trying to figure it out. After a good day of trying to make sense of the directions, she helped me alter the size and we got the fabric prepped to go. As soon as she left, my enthusiasm for the project went that way as well. It just wasn't...right. So I packed up the fabric and my machine. I wallowed in my sewing angst for awhile.

Then two nights ago, I was up late and decided I was going to pick a pattern and get working on it. What did I decide on?

Retro Starburst. Why did I ever deviate from this? So now I've prepped more fabric and pieced together the first block.

I'm rather happy with it. Since it is rotary cut, the book has it set up to mass produce and sew together, but I'm not as confident with sewing and quilting as I am with knitting. So I decided to take this slow and after each fabric addition, I've placed the block next to every fabric I have and hand-picked the next one to be sewn on. It took about 3 hours to get this all cut, sewn and pressed. Not too bad, considering it's a little bigger then 18.5" square.

The first block contains a few lines that I'm not sure who designed them, but there's a little FMF in there, some Amy Butler, and some Joel Dewberry.

Here's to the next block!

05 January, 2011

WIP-it Wednesday: 01 of 52

One of my unofficial goals is to blog my works-in-progress every single Wednesday this year. Doing a little research, I found that 2011 has exactly 52 Wednesdays in it. So let's get started, shall we?

After the insanity which was December, I've decided to take things a little easy in January. I'm slowly working on a pair of a-little-too-long-to-be-ankle socks. One is finished and the other is starting to take shape. These should be an FO before next Wednesday.

After that, I'm not 100% sure what I'll be working on. First quarter 2011 is looking to be filled with gift projects, as well as focusing using up some of these left over bits and pieces of yarn. Honestly, I would not be surprised if there is another pair of short socks...or 4. They're quick, mindless, and useful. They'll be a nice break from the projects I'm going to be working on otherwise. (I'm still not sure how I'll be handling those, either. The recipient of some of them is now on Ravelry and may know about this blog. It may be a frustrating few months with only non-descript teasers. Sorry, kittens.)

01 January, 2011

Knitting/Crafting Intentions: 2011

Since I'm one to wax romantic about a symbolic fresh start, I like to make a list of the things I didn't do so well with the past year and use that to focus on what I'd like to improve in the next year. I'm very much a "process live-r" and the journey is much more important then where I end up. Becoming is more important then being. Odd, I know. So, I'm all over resolutions/intentions/plans/goals/whatever-you-want-to-call-them.

For knitting--and crafting in general--it's much easier to pinpoint what I'd like to do. A bit less reflection is involved then other parts of my life. For one, I document my crafting life silly with this blog. Join me now while I muddle my way through my goals and how I intend to accomplish them.

Knit mostly from stash and work out the excess.

Up until November 2010, I had already accomplished this for the most part. All of my stash, minus partials and some project cotton, fit into my under-bed storage container. And there was room to spare, kittens. Room to spare! After some project buying and one panic-induced purchase from Knit Picks (how was I to know that the haphazard mark down of colors did not mean they were discontinuing them?!), I have a bit of overflow.


I plan to work primarily from stash and only purchase yarn needed for an immediate project. I'll have my one club skein coming a month, but 400-ish yards of fingering weight doesn't take up all that much room comparatively. The reduction of one sweater quantity will make room for 3-6 skeins of sock yarn.

I also plan to indulge in a special project here or there, as the goal of last year's Stashdown was to get to the point that I could do that...for the most part, I can. Stash should not be something one resents and feels obligations toward.

By the end of 2011, I'm hoping to reduce my current 09 sweater lots to 04. I also hope to crank out some socks this year to help balance out the 12 skeins that will come in through out the year from my club, as well as the one here or there I'm lucky enough to nab in an update.

All of the above really tied into what I consider to be my second sweeping knitting goal:

Allow myself a few immediate cast-on indulgences so I do not feel resentful of existing stash.

Yeah. I kinda covered that already. Whoops?

Moving on.

Avoid poor, impulsive purchases that will have to be destashed later on down the road.

I mostly curbed this in 2010, but the urge to buy all the pretties still hits hard sometimes. Most of them are gorgeous yarn that just will not work for me, no matter how much I love the color. They're impractical for one reason or another, and then I have to end up trying to sell them on Ravelry or give them away.

This mostly happens because I focus on small-lot, hand dyed yarn: even though some are hard to get, they're hardly a scarce resource, and it's silly that the hoarding instinct kicks in, and I want to "catch them all."

The easiest way to avoid this pitfall is to ignore groups on Ravelry that fuel the need for the yarn. The other is to just avoid the dyers' websites.

And finally, the most important sweeping goal:

Sit back, relax, and enjoy all of my pretty yarn while I turn it into gorgeous objects!

It seems simple enough. After the December I just had, I'm really not into yardage grinding in 2011. I will have to stay focused, but eventually, I want to not have to think about these things.

For those of you who are still with me and not staring at the teal deer, here are the few concrete things I want to get done in 2011.

♥ Knit 05-?? sweaters and be left with 04 or fewer lots in my tote.
♥ Use up most-all of my partials or get them out the door. Some have been caked for 3 years, and it's just not good for them.
♥ Knit another 05 pairs of socks.
♥ Sew bean bag chairs for both of my children.
♥ Sew a sewing machine cover.
♥ Sew that new bedquilt for The Mister and I.
♥ Get that gift blanket re-crocheted and out the door in time for the couple's first anniversary.

I think that's about it for concrete goals. Should be an interesting 2011.