Knit Meter

Monday, December 31, 2018

On The Sixth Day of Christmas

It’s time for the year end round up and the second post of the day.

I am going to start by saying thank you to my husband for another wonderful year. It has been a difficult year and as usual we have come through it mostly due to his incredible kindness.

I have been sewing more clothes this year, thanks to a lovely granddaughter. I had been good about only buying fabric as I was going to use it but there was some purchased in November which I just have not had the time to turn into dresses. I still have not quilted the quilt top I showed in October. I need a chunk of time to get started but once I get going I will be able to work on it in short periods. I’m really looking forward to it being finished but I also don’t want to mess it up.

I have produced fewer knitted/crocheted items this year than last year, mostly because I have made fewer hats and no baby clothes. Although I have made some big items, the total meterage used was lower too. I started again with Knit Meter and I have knitted 7983 metres this year and crocheted 474 meters; although this does not take into account the amount of yarn used in my mitred squares.

Total yarn used (excluding squares) just exceeds the amount of yarn added to my stash. This is what I would like each year and didn’t think I would achieve this year, especially with yarn purchases made in November and Christmas gifts.

What I am pleased with, is completing or frogging old projects. I only have two projects still on the needles that were in progress at the beginning of the year. I plan to frog one today and the other is this close to being finished. This year I started 21 projects, and frogged four of them, made three mitred square blocks and have another one on the go. I went through my stash and sold or gave away yarn I could not imagine using for a number of years and after purchasing single skeins on the LA Yarn Crawl, became much more thoughtful about what went in my stash. Even the souvenir yarn purchased at Stitches SoCal had a partner for a plan.

On The Fifth Day of Christmas

There wasn't a blog post.

Remember at the beginning I wrote that I didn't know if I would have time or subject to write for 12 days. I did have something to write but I did not have the time as I was busy doing all the things I can't do when looking after little children. So now you will get two posts today.

Having written about podcasts in my last two posts, I am going to continue with that theme.

I have (briefly) thought about podcasting but won't. The main reason is that I know I will not want to do the editing part so I would end up with lots of recordings that were not published. Too many knitting and crochet WIPs is bad enough but podcast WIPs. No thank you.

After my last two posts I thought I should write down what I do like about podcasts. As I said I was late to the game in listening but I like that I can just listen/watch through my computer. When I listened to books I would have to move them from car to home which became hard when I had a car with a CD player but my laptop did not have a disc drive. (Now it is the other way around and I have to load books onto an old IPod to be able to listen to them in the car.) Through habit, audio books are my listening choice when driving and podcasts when at home.

When I first started listening to podcasts I thought I liked the two presenter format, because I listened to The Yarniacs (two women), Books on the Nightstand (man and a woman) and watched a husband and wife team. But this isn't the case as the only two person podcast I have stuck with is The Yarniacs. Also all the podcasts I watch are hosted by British women. Do I find the accent more pleasing/understandable? I do not know especially as they all have different accents.

Apart from a person's voice, and that can be hard to define why I would like one and not another, although a flat tone with no inflection is not interesting, what don't I like about podcasts? Excessive laughter. Where everything that is said is followed by a laugh. Which leads into hosts that think they are funny. They laugh before they say something, during and after. You're not that funny. Children. If you can edit your podcast to remove the postman knocking, why can't you edit it to remove children interrupting? I'm also not keen on podcasts which heavily feature children. Interviews. Have a plan. And know how to start and end an interview. Podcasters that really don't like opinions that disagree with their own. It's OK for someone to not like yarn you love and vice versa. And on this note - fans who elevate podcasters to celebrity status. Podcasters that show a yarn that they were given to be used as a give away and then the yarn is never seen again. I do not need to hear you babbling on because you usually have a 60 minute show and today you can only get to 45 minutes so you're just talking to fill time.

What do I like about podcasts? I think that is harder to define. Voice. Why are some voices more pleasing on the ears? But definitely a monotone does not work. Preparation. They know what they are going to talk about. (Also interviews, see above.) Length. I've noticed that the ones I watch/listen to regularly are less than an hour. Relevance. Does it, mostly, stay on topic?

What it comes down to, there is an indefinable something that will make me return to a podcast.

Saturday, December 29, 2018

On The Fourth Day of Christmas

My Podcast is Better Than Your Podcast

Yes, I am sad to say I really experienced something along those lines earlier this year. This did not happen in one of the podcasts I mentioned yesterday and is very unlikely to happen in one of those as one thing I have noticed in the podcasts I listen/watch, they mention other podcasters in a positive way.

When I was watching a particular podcast, they said that some of their viewers had expressed that they did not like podcasts where they showed all their purchases, had knit alongs where you had to use a certain yarn, or there was a finish date deadline on a KAL. Apparently some watchers had said that it had put them off knitting all together.

A reasonable reaction to this would be to tell viewers to watch podcasts they enjoy and not watch ones that make them feel bad. But, no, they then went on to say how their podcast is not like that. Which was interesting as their podcast was started to sell patterns. But what was more bizarre was that the hosts went on to talk about their acquisitions and their KAL which they declared was OK because everyone taking part should be able to finish in the timeline.

Yes here is where I insert multiple exclamation marks. They'd started the episode with a talk on what people did not like about other podcasts and then without any trace of irony or chagrin they went ahead and did exactly the same thing on their podcast. It really came across as we're better than them. And that made me sad.

Friday, December 28, 2018

On The Third Day of Christmas

Let’s talk about podcasts.

I came late to the podcast game. Husband had been listening for a while to different podcasts on various subjects but when I wanted to listen to the spoken word, I listened to books.

I don’t know what prompted me to think about listening to podcasts but around 5-years ago I started to look for knitting podcasts. At the time I was only interested in aural podcasts although now I watch some occasionally. Although the world of podcasting is changing and improving, the terminology is not and podcast can refer to aural or video broadcasts.

Through Ravelry I tried a number of podcasts and found one I have stuck with – The Yarniacs Podcast. A fortnightly podcast by two women who live in Santa Cruz, California. In each episode they talk about what they are working on, what they have finished, patterns that they are interested in and a different knitting/yarn related topic. They have a dedicated group on Ravelry which is very chatty and where KALs are hosted. My main criticism of this podcast is that the podcasters are no longer very active on Ravelry. I have observed that where the podcaster is not active in the Ravelry group then the activity in the group dies down but I do not think that will happen in this group as it was well established before their participation dropped and there is another moderator who is very active. And before any one starts getting on their high horse about my comment, I know people have lives, owe their listeners nothing etc. but I am allowed to voice my opinion.

This is the only podcast I listen to. I used to listen to Books on the Nightstand but, sadly though not surprisingly, they stopped broadcasting.

Most new yarn related podcasts are video related. Which makes sense as yarn crafts are visual and it is relatively easy to upload to YouTube. One such podcast is Yarn Ambassador. It might seem strange mentioning her here as she hasn’t posted since July but her vlogs are relevant as she is showcasing British dyers, also through her I found Stranded podcast.

I watch Podcasts on YouTube on weekend mornings as I am up early and not awake enough for much else. If I am up to date with the Stranded podcast I will watch Love Sock Wool podcast and Knitting Expat podcast. The aural podcasts are great for when I am sewing.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

On The Second Day Of Christmas

There's a mitred square.

I have a couple of shawls that have not appeared on the blog because I was hoping to get some nice photos. Maybe I should plan to do that this weekend, otherwise I'll just post the basic ones I took after completion.

But I do have a mitred square to show you. They don't really need any fancy staging.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

On The First Day of Christmas

I was debating whether to do this as I didn't know if I had 12 things to write about but here goes. The bigger problem is not so much what to write about but do I have time to write a little each day? The day after Christmas and I am back into all day childcare.

The day after Christmas and it seems appropriate to write about my Advent cast ons as that is how I started my blog this month. Almost a total fail. I have managed to keep up with the project I designated as an Advent to Epiphany project. I started it on the 1st and have worked the clues on the same time frame as the original mystery. (They were more frequent than weekly at first.) Now I am on a weekly time frame and each section starts on a Saturday which gives me plenty of time over the weekend to complete a section.

I gave up on the laceweight Advent mystery knit along half way through the second day. I quickly realised that I wouldn't be able to keep up even if it was the only project I worked on. I haven't frogged it as I worked out that if I complete two rows each day in 2019, I will have a shawl to wear for Advent.

The third project is the one three of us were making. Although I would have liked to finish it by Christmas, my other cast on took priority. I am not sure if I will finish it by year end but I hope to be close. None of the three of us finished by Christmas. Oh well.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Some Stash Enhancement

With all the excitement of working on WIPs, I completely forgot to post about a recent shopping expedition at the beginning of November.
Stitches Events organized one in Southern California. We had known about this for a while and was the reason why I didn’t mind missing San Diego Yarn Crawl and Vista Fiber Fiesta. After buying pretty things on the LA Yarn Crawl I went to this event with more of a plan.
The event was held in the Pasadena Convention Center and was advertised as an event to include sewing and quilting as well as the fiber arts. In this respect the sewing arts were barely represented and I would have been disappointed if that had been my main reason for attending. The market place filled one hall and was easy to cover in one day. People who have attended Stitches West since inception say that is how that started and that has grown to be a very big event. We shall see if they grow this one. Stitches West is held in Santa Clara in February and the organizers might not want to have two big events in the same state; on the other hand, they may be growing their events as now that is the focus of their business. (Although they still publish books, they no longer publish magazines.)

The event was held over four days; Thursday to Sunday. With classes everyday and the marketplace open from Friday. (Open on Thursday evening for class attendees.) I was impressed that vendors had travelled from all parts of the country to take part. Having said that sewing arts were barely represented, that was in the market place, there were a number of sewing and quilting classes in addition to the yarn classes. I guess that was why I was surprised there weren’t more sewing vendors. There were about 85 different classes that were offered over the four days. One of my Tuesday night knitting friends took a couple and was very happy with them.

It is less than a 2-hour drive from where I live to Pasadena. When we were originally talking about going we had considered staying one night but decided not to when no one wanted to take a class. In the end it was just myself and P who went; E had a commitment that she couldn’t get out of. The drive to Pasadena was a breeze but coming home wasn’t so fun as it was foggy – marine layer. I had read that some people took the train from the San Diego area and I would definitely want some info on how that worked for them.

Now for the shopping. I did not want to be so excited by all the pretty yarn that I came home with a pile of stuff that I then had no idea what I would do with and eventually it would be sold or given away. I have purchased a number of skeins like that this year on the LA Yarn Crawl and as fund raisers for the Tits Out Collective. So the fun for me was a day out with a yarny friend looking at all the lovely yarns.
I did not get everything on my list, and I have already changed my mind about the pattern I will use with one of my purchases and there was a souvenir purchase. But I did come back with plenty of ideas for next year. For example there was one booth selling fiber of all different breeds and colours. I did not buy any as I have only just started spinning a braid but definitely a future consideration. Another booth had their yarns in kit with a pattern and stitch markers. I didn’t buy one as I though it unlikely that I would make it within a year but, again, a consideration for the future.

So what did I buy? Four skeins of yarn, some stitch markers and I won a needle.

I won the needle as a door prize. I was allowed to pick up to a certain value from a booth (which I can’t remember the name). There was a limited selection so I chose a size I use a lot in a length I thought would be a good opportunity to try. It is a Kollage square circular needle, 2.25mm, 9-inch length.

This is the photo of my purchases.

From left to right:
A gradient yarn from Alexanders Crafts. Gradient lace weight was on my list as, at the time, I really wanted to knit the gradient shawl that I had frogged earlier this year. I know this isn’t lace weight but decided it would work. Since getting home I have changed my mind and it is set for another pattern. I have now decided that I am not so desperate to make the original pattern unless the perfect yarn comes along.

The middle two skeins are from Destination Yarn, a dyer from Ohio. I was keen to see her booth as she had posted some photos on Ravelry and she had some colours especially inspired by Southern California for this event. One of them she named Palm Springs and as we love to go to the Nine Cities area, husband and I said it was suitable souvenir yarn. But to make future knitting choices easier, I bought a solid to go with it and I already have a good idea of the pattern I am going to use.

The last skein is from Stunning String Studio out of Illinois. I have a skein of highly variegated yarn from Candy Skein that needed a plain colour to go with it so I was on the look out for a dark grey. The stitch markers were purchased from the same booth.

All-in-all, it was an enjoyable day and I would definitely go again.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

It’s December 1st And I’m Crazy

Last year I participated in an Advent Knitalong with a friend. The pattern was not a mystery but was divided into 24 parts. Many people (my friend included) purchased mystery yarn sets where you opened a package each day.

I used stash yarn and was really pleased with my finished shawl. Three of us had talked about knitting a pattern for advent this year. We were not wowed by this year’s pattern by the same designer and that stymied our yarn buying efforts. For example, my plan had been to buy minis at Stitches SoCal (there will be a post about that event soon) and the others had been considering mystery yarn sets. All efforts to come up with a pattern to work on for the 24 days felt like knitting for the sake of knitting. Eventually I chose a mystery knitalong with some laceweight yarn lurking in my stash. I also chose a pattern that had been a mystery in August last year that I could use yarn I purchased at Stitches SoCal and make it an Advent and Epiphany project. That’s only two projects for December why not make it three?

In her determination to get all three of us knitting the same pattern, P chose one that could be divided into days. E needed some yarn buying therapy and immediately bought yarn (and then still chose some from stash!) I declined; I already had my plans. Until I opened up my stash box. Earlier this year I had purchased two skeins of yarn, from different dyers, to support the Tits Out Collective. (I could have purchased many, many skeins but limited myself to just two.) I had my stash out as P had given me some laceweight yarn to go with one of them as I had expressed interest in a pattern using two different weights of yarn. And that’s when the a-ha moment hit. The two skeins went very well together and if I just found another that went with them I could join my friends in their KAL. The third skein is by Candy Skein. I am very excited to use all three of these yarns as they were all purchased just because with no idea what I would use them for.

So that’s it folks. Three cast ons on 1 December.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Some Blocks

The last block I showed was for August. I did not make September’s block because I did not know what fabric to use. Nothing I had in stash seemed right but I did not want to buy any. I will make this the last one and if I have to buy fabric so be it.

The block for October is really rather fun but as I did not make it until the end of the month I decided to wait until I had made November’s and show them both together. The fabric is all from stash, although the green stem and both the fabrics for the outside of the pumpkin are leftovers from fabric purchased for other blocks.

When I had finished October’s block, not only did I choose the fabric for November’s but I also cut it out so I was all ready to sew. This was all leftovers too.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

The Hats

These are the last of my completed projects for a while. I am so pleased that in October I completed so many projects that now I am left with projects that, although, started months ago were not very far along. A stated in my last post I have three active projects.

I have mentioned many times that I usually have a hat project on the go; usually a crochet project that I can work on in the car or other times I need an easy project. I had ended up with three hat projects. Two of which I had on car journeys but I had run out of yarn and hadn’t got around to going through stash to find more. I knew I would someday. This WIP KAL was the incentive to just do it.

First was the hat made with bulky yarn. I had very little left in stash and there was not enough to finish crocheting the hat. As knit fabric uses less yarn than crochet that’s the route I went, although I frogged the first pattern I tried.

The next hat was a pattern I had made a few times and when I ran out of yarn, I decided to make the medium size instead of the large. Although I had enough yarn for that I did not think the hat was big enough so it was completely frogged and a new pattern started where I could use many colours of yarn.

The third hat just needed to be finished. I knew I had plenty of yarn. All the time I was working on it Grandson kept on asking for his hat. It is now his. I have made this pattern many times, but this time I actually added the reverse crochet edge.

I now have no hats on the go, so for the time being my easy take along project will be my mitred square project.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

It’s November – How Are the WIPs?

My projects were building up and I was planning a new cast on for Advent, also a works-in-progress (WIP) knit along (KAL) started on Ravelry at the end of September. This was the impetus needed to finish things.

I have posted pictures of most of the items that I have finished, just some hats left to show, so how many WIPs do I actually have? Five! I know; when was the last time it was that low? And let me break that number down so that number is really three. Two of those projects should be completely undone. I know I am never going to finish them but I have this thing where if I frog something the new project has to be started immediately. I have planned to frog one of these between Christmas and New Year so that I can have a grand cast on on New Year’s Day. Having written that, maybe I should frog the other one before Christmas and have an Epiphany cast on. That gives me time to choose a pattern. One of the reasons that these two projects are languishing is that I didn’t know what to make instead. But I made a decision for one; let’s make it two.

Ignoring the potential frogs, I am left with three projects. One is my mitred square squares. That is an ongoing slow project so will be a WIP for a long time. That leaves two projects – a shawl and a cardigan. The cardigan I started way back in March really just to get some old yarn on the needles, it is not very far along but I ought to work on it this month. The shawl I started in March after frogging my New Year’s cast on. It got pushed aside when the yarn arrived for a new shawl pattern and never got picked up again. Now it will get the love it deserves. Can I finish it before 1 December? I don’t think so. It is a gradient yarn and I want to use all the yarn for full effect but it will certainly be my main project this month.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Another One

This shawl I knitted from my own handspun yarn and isn’t the last of my finished objects for the WIP challenge.

A while ago (three/four years?) I decided I wanted to spin. I didn’t want to learn how to spin on a wheel as I knew that was very likely to be a slippery slope to having even more yarn that I don’t have time to use. Many years ago when we were still living in Calgary I took a class on learning how to spin on a drop spindle. There were only two sessions and I didn’t practice so nothing happened after the two weeks but I remember enjoying it. So when this urge came on me to spin I gave drop spindle spinning another go but I needed supplies. I had no idea what fiber to purchase. I found a website that supplied beginners packs of fiber and did a little research on good spindles. Although I would have liked something pretty I did not want to spend a lot of money on something that might be used twice only but I did want one that was well made.

I purchased a Kundert spindle and a pack of three different types of fiber from Spunky Eclectic and was ready. The suggestions are to spin for 30 minutes a day to build skill and I could achieve this at first but then life got in the way (Grandchildren moved in) and I was lucky to get any spinning done. I plied the natural yarn and chain plied the coloured yarn, which was fun. Because there were big gaps between my spinning sessions each time was like the first time and I ended up with thick/thin yarn. Nevertheless I wanted to use it and found a simple pattern that I could stop when I ran out of yarn After I started I found another pattern that I could use the border.

Although yellow is not one of my favourite colours, I am pleased with the end result and it will be nice for wearing around the house. I wish I had thought about the yarns more before starting as the rougher yarn is at the neck. A good lesson for next time. The natural yarns are New Zealand Blend Roving and Corriedale Combed Top and the yellow yarn is Combed Top BFL.

And then having spun and plyed my first yarn, I HAD to buy more fiber to continue to practice. Once again I was stuck with “I don’t know what to buy”. There are names of dyers that are mentioned quite often on Ravelry so I purchased from a Raveler’s stash.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Not My Oldest Project

Today’s finished item is a project that I started on 1 December last year, although this was the same day as the Advent Knit Along as that started small I needed something else to work on.I loved the yarn and the pattern which is why it got set aside for an Epiphany cast on. I know, does not make any sense although that project was suited to the time of year and did get finished.

Once a project is set aside it is easy for it to remain that way. But I took it on vacation in June and got as far as the border. The border is knit sideways, not hard, but not really something you can do while doing other things. So with my new found enthusiasm for finishing things, this project was picked up and finished. It took about a week to work the border, less than I was expecting and not too long that I got bored.

Now a little bit about the yarn and pattern. The variegated yarn I got in 2015 as part of a yarn club. I loved it and did not want it to become socks but had no pattern in mind. Then in the summer of 2017 I saw this pattern and knew it would be perfect for my yarn, if only I had a solid to go with it!

This was solved at the 2017 San Diego Yarn Crawl when I purchased Sweet Georgia Superwash Sport in the Wisteria colourway.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

A Week Later

Another finished project with a story. Earlier this year a friend visited New Zealand and for my birthday gave me a ball of New Zealand wool.

It would have made lovely gloves or hat but they're not something I would use much where I live, so the search was on for the right project. I found a shallow garter stitch shawl with a lace edging and from the pattern notes it would appear that I had enough yarn wool for the garter stitch part. I found a similar weight yarn for the lace part in my stash, left over from another project and also small amounts of yarn for the cast on and off.

I did not have enough contrast yarn to complete all the lace section, so just stopped when it ran out. And then I used only half of the skein of New Zealand wool. Oh well. I love the finished project.

Monday, October 22, 2018

First Finished Object

After joining the WIP KAL on Ravelry, which fitted in very nicely with my goal of no new cast ons until 1 December, I was going to post all my finished objects in one post. However, there is a bit of a story behind each project, so it is likely each will have its own post.

The yarn used in this project is Miss Babs Yummy 2-ply. She is a very popular dyer that I have not seen locally but I purchased some DK weight when I was in Washington D.C. and knit the second shawl shown here.

At the end of the year Miss Babs has a sale, it is a good one and they make sets of yarn at a good price. I decided to purchase a set of three, possibly to make Lilli Pilli. I purchased what I thought was a set of blues and was very surprised when this arrived.

These are just not colours I would have purchased, I was sure that there was a mistake but the labels showed the colour names as what I had ordered. But whereas I was expecting a teal and a black, I received an emerald green and a brown. I was just going to sell the set but decided to write to Miss Babs and say I was disappointed. They came back with the usual jargon of monitors differ etc. etc. But the next day they contacted me and said they had looked at their website and agreed that one of the colours did not match what was sent and would I like my money back or to choose another set. As my original intent was to have yarn I opted for a replacement. This did put me in a quandary though as I had learned that Miss Babs colours did not show true and I did not want to end up in the same position – being disappointed with what I got. So, rather than picking something I absolutely loved, I chose a set that I wouldn’t hate if the colours were different than I expected. With the benefit of hindsight I should have just picked my favourite and been prepared for disappointment.

This is what I got.

And it had to sit in my stash until I found the right pattern. Which happened to be this one – Suburban Wrap by Joji Locatelli. I decided it would be a good cast on for vacation and definitely when I saw Joji was holding a KAL and her patterns were on sale. I swatched to see what order I wanted the colours and also for needle size. I went down two needle sizes so my wrap is much smaller than the pattern. I did not really enjoy this knit – was it the yarn, the pattern, both? It was OK for vacation knitting but I think this will now go in my gift pile.

The funny thing though, this is the left over yarn that I want to turn into socks.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Sewing Too

After making the decision to work only on WIPs until 1 December, I decided to apply this to sewing projects as well. Although, really, I don’t have sewing WIPs I just have the one that I should finish before starting anything else.

The languishing sewing WIP is a quilt which was my only sewing project at the beginning of the year until I hit a snag. And then it was side lined for all the garments. I purchased all the fabric for this quilt at the same time, including the backing. But when I finished the quilt top and compared the amount of backing with the top I did not have enough backing fabric. I checked what I had purchased against the pattern and I had bought the correct amount but the pattern had not taken into account that you needed two widths of the fabric. I was disappointed as I had specifically purchased the backing fabric at the same time as the main quilt fabric as it was the same style and so I had everything to make the quilt. I now had to decide if I wanted completely different material for the backing or if I wanted to piece the fabric I had with another fabric. Whatever choice I made I had to go shopping. I bought something quite different but coordinating to use as a centre panel with my original choice as the side panels.

By choosing to work on WIPs I finally sewed the two fabrics together and this weekend I trimmed then and sandwiched the quilt.

Here it is all pinned and waiting for me to quilt on my new machine.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Wrangling the WIPs

About three months ago I was justifying the number of projects I have on the go. Despite finishing two of the projects mentioned in that post, I still have too many projects in progress. I started a new project on vacation which coincided with a knitalong and I am thinking of doing an advent knitalong again this year. Soooo between now and 1 December I am going to work on existing projects – no new cast ons. Although I am already prepared to break that rule as I was contemplating casting on socks (yes, socks) so that I have an easy project.

Also, my projects, my rules. Not included in the WIP count are the charity projects, blanket squares and the two projects that still need to be frogged. I have two projects that are close to being finished. In fact it would be nice to complete them this month and there is a good chance I could complete another in November. That leaves two projects. They are not very far along so I am not likely to finish them before December but they will get worked on before 1 December if I have finished other things. Then next time I have a WIP round up I can be surprised at how far along I am!

Sunday, September 30, 2018

A Hat

I know, I don’t post for nearly a month and all I have to show is a hat. I did finish my Changes shawl but, as usual, no photos.

The hat I finished was a simple crochet hat that I started in June. I got it out as I had a long car journey coming up and noticed that I only had half a row to go to finish the hat. I did that and started a new hat in the car. I now have three charity hats in progress.

I finally made myself take a photo of the hat

and before I had a chance to put it away it was snatched up.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Bags, Bags, Bags

A few posts ago I wrote that I wanted to use all the fabric I have recently purchased. This has resulted in more bags. Although some I made specifically for gifts.

When I went to England earlier this year, I purchased some ribbon. It was printed with the Union Flag and I thought it would be fun to make some bags for friends with it. I decided to make pyramid bags which meant the purchase of three zippers and then another gap before I got around to making the bags. (And even then I forgot to take them with me last time I saw my two friends together.)

When I did sit down to sew the bags I could not remember why I had chosen that particular length of zipper so just made the bags to fit the zips. Now I’m wondering if that was the shortest length in the colour I wanted and I planned to cut them. No big deal as this way I used all the ribbon. I cut out interfacing to size, fused the ribbon to it and then zig-zag stitched along the edges. This was used as the main fabric and I had plenty of a cream for the lining.

Sometime last year, I purchased a set of blue fat quarters with the idea of making another bento bag. Jo-ann’s sells them in sets of five. When I opened them up I realized that they were all very similar, dark blue with small white print, except for one which was light. (I don’t have a photo of all five together.) I wanted the light colour for the body of the bag but thought the other pieces were too dark for the lining so I used some left over fabric. I hope whoever I give this too doesn’t mind baseballs. The inside of the handle is also left over fabric; all the other fabric is from the fat quarter set. I did not have any suitable ribbon/cord so used what I have for the time being.

The next bag I made is one for which I had had the pattern a while (free at Jo-ann’s), had purchased the zipper a long time ago and finally decided to use fabric in stash. I really like the bag even though it didn’t turn out too well. The problem was that the fabric I used is quite thick so I had difficulty making and attaching the tab. Also the interfacing I have is too thick for when all pieces are interfaced. I really need to buy some thinner interfacing. I deliberately didn’t line up the zig-zag stitching but wish I had made them more offset or only on one side.

I can definitely see myself making more of these as pencil cases for children.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

August’s Square

I made August’s square last week. I was expecting it to take longer to make than it did because it looked like there was a lot of work plus when I had just sat down to sew I had some unexpected child care. With respect to the latter I was able to sew while he played with cars and regarding the former I could do a lot of chain piecing.

This block was labeled as appliqué but making a template was also involved. The flower has 20 petals. I had scraps of yellow in four different colours but decided to buy some more. An eighth-yard in three different colours when on sale at Jo-Ann’s does not cost very much. A template was made for the petals and the cutting out did not take long as I was able to layer two or three fabrics and then cut out with a small rotary cutter. Each petal was sewn across the top to make the point, turned to the right side and pressed. I then sewed the petals in pairs. I didn’t have any order for this, just made sure I didn’t have two of the same. Some of the pairs were sewn into four groups of four and then two groups of ten were made. These two groups were joined into a circle.

Here’s photos showing them before and after pressing.

The circle was then sewn to the green square – the appliqué part. There was no way I was going to do this by hand so I used zigzag stitch. I am very pleased with it; also very grateful for the needle up/down function on my new machine. The green is from the fat quarter I bought for March’s square. I am happy that I had a big piece in stash.

Flower sewn to block.

The centre of the flower is appliqué and a new to me method. The circle is cut larger than the template, running stitches made in the seam allowance, gathered around template. This was easier than expected as I had never done it before. The secret is to make stitches small and make sure they are all the same distance from the edge.

Finished block. This is the largest one so far.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

And Another Bag

The other reason for there being quite a few finished sewing projects just lately is that I want to use all the fabric I purchased recently. I know that sounds a bit strange but I want my fabric purchases to be for specific projects and to be used in a short time scale and not sit in stash. I had a coupon for 20% off (I think) all purchases including sale items so I took advantage of this to buy fabric that was already massively on sale. That trip I bought fabric for five projects: the two dresses for my granddaughter, a skirt and a dress for myself, and a bag.

This week I made the skirt and the bag which means I have now used four of the five pieces of fabric. The bag was a new-to-me pattern I found in the One-Yard Wonder book. After purchasing the fabric, I noticed that the pattern said not suitable for one-directional fabric. Uh oh. No big deal. Just meant I had an extra seam at the bottom and had to concentrate to make sure the fabric was the right way up before sewing.

The bag was a straight forward lined bag with handles in the top seam but the sides and bottom had a pin tuck to give the bag shape. I messed up a bit at the corners but as my husband said anyone else wouldn't notice. Apart from that, I am happy with it but have not decided if it will be a knitting bag (for all those big projects) or just a regular carry anything bag. My granddaughter has not seen it yet and I am worried that she might lay claim to it as it is pink and dogs.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

More Sewing Than Knitting

I don’t know if that is true but it definitely feels like it as this is another post showing a sewn item.

One reason is that my knitting has been big projects. Two of my finished projects this year have been over 1000 meters and the one I am working on now will be close to that. So not quick knits. Whereas the sewing has been, mostly, quick things. Also I usually have the chance to sew in a big block of time so it is easier to finish something, especially the block of the month. Whereas with just an hour or so each night spent on knitting it takes more days to finish something.

Add to that, if an item is for a child then they are very keen to see the finished item. Which brings us to today’s post and yet another dress for my granddaughter. She chose the fabric herself when we purchased the pink fabric as the dress is another view on the same pattern. This one was slightly easier as there were not eight panels to cut and sew for the skirt but they did seem to make the cutting out more complicated that I thought it needed to be. For the skirt, half the size was provided, which is usual when you are placing on the fold but they had you lay the fabric out flat and lay the pattern piece twice. This seemed unnecessary to me and I folded the fabric. The other change I made was to mitre the corners when hemming the skirt.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

And There’s Knitting

At last I have a finished item to show you. Although I have many projects on the go, there is usually just one that I work on most of the time. This was my Changes shawl but when I couldn’t continue because of the split in one of the needles I picked up the Snow Day shawl. Although not at all appropriate for our summer heatwave I decided to finish it as it really is a lovely project.

I purchased the yarn at the end of January 2017. At the time I did not have a pattern in mind but purchased enough to make a decent size shawl. But when the Snow Day pattern was released I knew this yarn was perfect but I would need equal amounts of each colour. Another skein was purchased on last year’s Yarn Crawl.

I finally started it at the beginning of March when I was in London and I call it After Snow Day as there had been a bulk of snow the week before.
The pattern is written for three colours but I just alternated the two colours I had. When I came to the end of the written pattern I had practically a full skein of each left. The pattern is written with a different number of rows for each section, I worked the sequence backwards and finished with two blocks of garter stitch.

I love it. It is very squidgy and I am looking forward to wearing it when we have cooler evenings. My pattern notes say I would have gone up a needle size if I’d had bigger needles with me but now I’m glad I didn’t.

Pattern: Snow Day
Needles: 5mm
Yarn: Western Sky Knits Willow DK Superwash Merino
Colours: Pepper and Jasmine
Amount used: 2 full skeins of each.

Friday, July 27, 2018

June and July

My last post was grateful for sewing so that I had finished items to show and this one is all about the sewing too - quilt blocks.

I did not make a block in June as we were away for a couple of weeks and I just did not have the time to sew it. We're nearly at the end of July and I decided I better make the July block otherwise once I was two months behind would I continue with making them. As it turned out, I was able to make both blocks in the same day. Both blocks were made with scraps.

I am really pleased with July's block. It was another foundation paper piecing. They are so fun to make and you have the lines to sew on. This is a very summery block as it is a row of beach huts. Yes it is all scraps but the white was purchased for the bodice lining of the ill-fated Sofia dress.

As I had time left I made the June block as well as it did not have many pieces. But it was harder as there were curved shapes. I did not do as well with this as I did the umbrella in April but it will do.

When I have finished a block I look at the next one to work out what fabric I need and have everything ready to go. I will have to buy some fabric for August but I can purchase 1/8 yard at Jo-ann so I will not be adding greatly to my stash.

At the time of writing, I am very close to finishing one of my knitting projects and I have purchased a replacement needle for the Changes shawl. So who knows? Maybe the next post will be about knitting.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Thank Goodness for Sewing

As this means I have some finished items to show

Since my last sewing post I have made four more dresses for my granddaughter (two of which she didn’t like) and another shirt for my grandson. I also finished the dress I was making for myself which may or may not make an appearance depending on some decent photos being taken. Oh and that also applies to a skirt I made for myself.

I found a dress pattern in One-Yard Wonders and made a dress with Princess Sofia fabric. She loved the fabric but did not like the dress, I’m not surprised it was rather baggy, and she asked me to use the material to make the same dress pattern as the one shown in my May post. Which I obediently did. But it was too late, having not liked the dress the first time round she didn’t like the second iteration. But she did like the dress made with My Little Pony fabric. The Sofia dress was given to a relative.

The third dress I made for her was with Shopkins fabric that she chose herself. This is pre-elasticated at the top and the top and bottom edges are finished. I thought it would be relatively easy to sew a back seam and add straps so that the dress would stay up. Not so fast. When the top part is cut, you have to finish off the ends so that the elastic doesn’t all come out. Also I decided to neaten the bottom edge. And guess what? Even though she chose this fabric and had fun when I took photos with her in it, she does not like the dress as she does not like the green.

So undeterred by these failures we went to Jo-ann and I let her choose a pattern and fabric. I was impressed that she did this, as even as an adult it can be hard to picture a piece of clothing from an artist’s rendition. She chose a pattern with a few styles and fabric to make two of them. I wasn’t sure what size to make even after measuring against a dress she wears but decided too big is better than too small. It is a little big but with careful placement of the straps at the back it is not obviously too big. And the good news is that she loves it. So much so that she wanted to wear it everyday.

Then it was time to make another shirt for my grandson. He chose the fabric and was so excited when he saw it finished. In fact he was so excited he wore both shirts to school! I decided to add buttonholes to this one – the dinosaur one has snaps – the good thing about that is that my machine played up so much it was the final kick I needed to go out and get a new machine. But the bad thing was that when he took the shirt off he pulled like with snaps and I just managed to stop him before all the buttons came off.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Where Are The WIPs?

The last post showed finished items but we all know I have many projects still in progress. My last post of the Twelve Days of Christmas showed all my projects at that date. Since then I have started five projects (and finished two), completed two blanket squares and started three hats for charity (finishing one). Of the projects on the needles (hook) as at 6 January, two are finished, one was frogged and restarted with a different pattern and two will be frogged when I am ready to use the yarn.

So…. how many projects do I really have on the go? Yikes having just counted them on Ravelry I’m not sure I’m ready to admit that number. Should I tell you the total before the excuses why certain projects don’t count or should I deduct those first? Whispers. Eleven. Ack how did that happen? In June I had one charity project on the go now I have two. But, seriously, how did six become eleven? Firstly, let’s get the number down to a real number. I can deduct the two projects I am going to frog as I am not going to use the yarn until some more projects have been finished; also deduct the two charity hats because they have really become long car journey knitting; and deduct the mitred square blanket as that is appointment knitting.

Five from eleven becomes six. Is six my magic number? One of those six was on the needles at the beginning of the year and one was on the needles but a different pattern. I would like to finish both of those by the end of this year.

When I came back from vacation my Changes shawl became my main project. But I hit a snag, literally. One of my needles developed a split. As I am more than half-way through, I want to continue with the same make needle so a trip to a store has to be planned. (Although there a couple of yarn stores less than a half-hour drive I do not pass either of them in my usual day; add in that they are not open 7-days and you can see why a trip has to be planned.) Until I can get that situation resolved, Snow Day shawl has become my main project. I mentioned this project when I returned from my trip to the UK. I love the yarn and am now on the second skein of each colour.

Four projects hiding in these bags.

From left to right first is the Changes shawl.

Then the Snow Day shawl which I had to move into this bag when I started the second skeins of yarn.

Then the Nexus shawl which had all the love when I was on vacation but now has to wait for one or two things to be finished.

Lastly is my gradient yarn. I don't know when I last worked on it. It probably was relegated when I started the Changes shawl but I was surprised as to how much I had done.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Finished Items

At last I have something to show. The last post with a completed knitted item was in April. And it’s not as if I’ve been piling up objects to show you. By the middle of last year I had completed 16 items. Admittedly many of those were hats and baby items, but even so half-way through this year I am at 5 items. It has made a difference starting the year with nothing on the needles (except what I started at the end of December) so there were no nearly finished projects to boost the stats and there was the nearly finished project that I completely frogged. Add to that I have been making larger items with more than one skein of yarn.

Here are the two hats that I mentioned in my last post. Both crocheted and will be sent to Operation Gratitude towards the end of the year.

The pattern for the top hat is Dream Weaver Beanie, free pattern available on Ravelry. The grey and dark green yarns are Bernat Softee Chunky and the other two colours are Charisma by Loops and Threads. They are all yarns left over from hats I made in previous years. With the small amount of yarn left over I started another hat with the same pattern. I have to go through my stash to see what I have left over that will finish that hat.

The bottom hat is the one I started and finished in the car. It is a simple Granny stitch type pattern that is free on Ravelry but I was given on the San Diego Yarn Crawl. The purple yarn is Vanna’s Choice and I used that for just the increase section then I changed to Red Heart Soft. I worked until I liked the length and then worked the final round which is in single crochet. I’m sure everyone heard my whoop of delight as I finished that round as I had just enough yarn to darn in the end. Another skein out of my stash.

The final finished project to show you is the mystery shawl knit along started on 27 April. There was no official deadline for this KAL and no prizes but I did finish it within a couple of weeks of the last clue being released. This KAL was different from others in which I have participated as the designer was not a presence on the discussion boards and had not appointed any moderators to take on that role. Although this did not cause any problems there was one aspect where it felt like the designer abandoned the knitters. The pattern was free during the KAL and stated that it would become a paid for pattern when the KAL ended. They also gave two to three days notice before the pattern became a paid for pattern. I had no problem with this as I had kept up and downloaded all the clues but many participants did not and expected the updates in their library to work at any time. But they found that once the pattern became paid the updates didn’t work. But the designer has disappeared from Ravelry and has not answered any questions about this. To make matters worse they referenced stupid people on the edit page.

Anyway now I’ve had my little moan about the designer, here’s the details on my project. The pattern called for two full skeins of sock yarn and two half or 50g skeins. (OK another moan. The pattern stated weight required and not yardage although this could be found if you searched the Ravelry group. Many people ran out of one of the colours even if they had started with the correct amount. The designer did not answer any questions about this.) I used two skeins I had purchased at Vista Fiber Fiesta last year, some yarn I had been given after a small amount had been used and some left over yarn.

But I did not use up any of the four, so no skeins out.

Friday, July 6, 2018

Vacation Knitting and Yarn Stores

For a while I have started a new project when I have gone on vacation. It’s fun to start something new when being away from home.

A couple of weeks ago, preparing for vacation, I was faced with the decision of what knitting to take. I have so many projects on the go I couldn’t even think about a new project. Really, I had no inclination to start anything new so I grabbed a couple of project bags. I worked on my Nexus shawl and got as far as the border. Which is what I was aiming for. The border is knitted sideways and I will prefer working on it at home. Now I’m home I am back working on my Changes Shawl. I had decided not to take it on vacation because of all the different skeins. Having completed half of it I am really looking forward to the finished item.

For the driving part of the trip, I finished the hat I started way back in October. I also started and finished another hat and started a third hat. These were all hats I was crocheting for charity. I haven’t made anything for charity for a while and it seems that long car journeys are a good time to make a few things.

When I am away I do not make a point of visiting yarn stores but if I happen to see one I will pop in. I visited three this trip and drove past a fourth but decided not to stop.

All the stores were interesting in the way they greeted me. The first place, someone was sitting behind a big counter in the middle of the store; she acknowledged my presence but that was it. People who came in after me were treated the same way. Even one person who was obviously seriously buying yarn. This attitude did put me off and I did not buy any yarn.

The other two stores were similar in that they greeted me and said to let them know if they could help. And no other interaction. To be fair one owner was helping someone with their knitting. These stores didn’t have anything I couldn’t buy at home so nothing was purchased. It seems to me that customers complain about too much attention or not enough. I have thought what greeting I would like. Something along the lines of “have you been here before, let me show you what we have”, and then leave me to look.

I was disappointed in what the stores stocked. I know they have to cater for their regular customers but there was not anything different from what I see at home. They did have one locally produced and dyed yarn. Unfortunately it contained mohair to which I am allergic.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

There’s Been Sewing

Actually there’s been knitting too I just don’t have anything finished to show. I have been keeping up with the mystery I showed you last time. As the rows have been getting shorter I even finished Clue 4 early and picked up the Changes Shawl to work on. I have one more Clue of the mystery so a finished object soon.

In the meantime I am sure you are not going to complain about sewn items. Firstly May’s square. A quick little number. I cut out the shapes the day before I sewed them, which was quick and it was quick to sew them together the next day. All fabric was from stash.

Then I decided to sew a dress for my granddaughter from fabric leftover from a dress I was making for myself. Note the tense of that verb to make. Yes it isn’t finished and my granddaughter got a dress first. Remember I said that I had got a free sewing class on Craftsy. The class showed you how to make a bag and a dress. The pattern for the bag was downloaded as part of the class but the pattern for the dress was a manufacturer’s pattern that was mailed to the participants.

After I cut out the dress pattern I was surprised at how much fabric was left over and realized that I had purchased the yardage requirement for narrower fabric. So when I was about half-way through my dress I decided to use the leftover fabric to make a child’s dress as there was a free pattern on CreativeBug. It wasn’t a hard pattern, although I wasn’t too impressed by the class, and there was a surprise waiting for her at the end of the day.

Having made a dress, her brother now needed something and I found a pattern for a shirt in One-Yard Wonders. I got this book from the library and none of the patterns had been cut so I purchased some Pellon Easy Pattern to trace the pattern and, therefore, leave it intact for the next person. I also took the grandchildren shopping so they could choose their own fabric and, no surprise, dinosaurs were chosen.

I couldn’t get him to stand still for a decent photo so a hanger photo will have to suffice.