2013 year in review, continued

  1.  no-waste subway tile Christmas quilt
  2.  triangle robots in space quilt 
  3. krazy kat quilt
I would be remiss if I didn't reflect on all the other crafting I completed in 2013, which primarily consisted of quilting! I finished three quilts this year--two twin quilts and one full size quilt. And I love all of them! I'm getting more accurate with my cutting and piecing, so the quality of these quilts is much improved over past quilts I've completed.

The other project that I made a lot of progress on was an old love: needlepoint! I finally finished a horse needlepoint project I started as a teenager with my Sunday's Stitches project. All that's left is turning the finished work into a pillow (or framing it). I'm definitely going to resurrect my Sunday's Stitches weekly post in 2014--the commitment of posting once a week gave me the accountability I need to make slow but steady progress on my needlepoint projects! I have a bright and cheerful pillow kit that I'm itching to get starting on next--bright pinks, yellows, orange, turquoise flowers. It will match perfectly with the Moda jelly rolls I've acquired to make a new quilt for my bed in 2014! I also plan to continue my Christmas quilt tradition, and try the quilt-as-you-go technique while making a Christmas quilt for my son's big-boy bed. If I really go crazy, I may even try my hand at making some clothes for my daughter. But we'll see about that! 

2013 knitting resolution round-up

So, how well did I do this year?

  •  Goal #1: Learn a new knitting technique (I'm thinking brioche stitch, or mosaic knitting!)... Major success with this goal! I really spread my knitting wings and dabbled in several new techniques this year:
Starting at the top, and proceeding in a clockwise fashion, I knit my first shawl and actually blocked something for the first time ever with my Storm Fir Shawl (still excited about that one!!), tried "illusion" knitting for the first time with my candy corn illusion cloth (definitely going to make more illusion knits, so easy and fun!), tried duplicate stitch for the first time when making the mouth/teeth on my minion, fell in love with brioche knitting, knit big bobbles for the first time, learned and fell in love with magic loop while making these ballet legwarmers, and knit applied i-cord for the first time this year (LOVE this way to finish an edge!). These were all really fun, gratifying projects so I was doubly happy to learn something new.
  • Goal #2: Try dyeing yarn (I have undyed wool, I have the dyes, I have a pot ready to designate as my "dye pot" ... I just need to do it!). DONE! Successfully attempted dyeing yarn with food coloring and Easter egg dyes. Loved it, and need to do some more dyeing!
  •  Goal #3: Finish at least one sweater in 2013. Do children's sweaters count? Because I knit four kid's sweaters this year ... sadly, my intention was to motivate myself to finish a long-languishing WIP with this resolution and that still didn't happen. I'm down to one more sleeve and finishing, so one step closer though!
  • Goal #4: Make one project a month out of my current library of craft books, magazines, and knitting patterns. Well, I certainly did not quite manage one project each month this year from my current library, but my personal Love Your Library challenge did get me knitting more from my current stash of books and magazines than ever before! These are all the projects I finished from magazines or books currently in my library:
1. Jewel Vest from KnitSimple magazine
2. Montague Bulky Lace Vest from New England Knits
3. Shawl Collar Sweater from The Expectant Knitter
4. Mock Cable Wristers from 60 Quick Knits
5. Bobbles & Cables Cap from 60 Quick Knits
6. Crosshatch Lace Socks from More Sensational Knitted Socks
7. Easter Egg Dyed yarn with the guidance of Teach Yourself Visually Hand-Dyeing and Hand-Dyeing Yarn and Fleece.

Sadly, these seven projects are a major victory for me! I also "count" projects that require purchasing the pattern that I actually knit this year, as I have a a problem of purchasing patterns and just not quite following through on my intentions to make them, ahem. If I count those projects, then I easily exceeded my goal of 12 projects knit from my library. But these seven are from older library items, so these are the ones that really deserve some celebration! 

So what are my goals for 2014? I thought I was getting simple in 2013, but my knitting goals in 2014 are even simpler:
  • Goal #1: Knit down my stash. 
  • Goal #2: Finish, frog, or otherwise eliminate my current WIPs.
  • Goal #3: Continue my Love Your Library project!
In doing my annual year-end cleaning I discovered numerous languishing WIPs that I really really really want to finish, and got excited to see again. And as I continued to shove more and more yarn acquisitions into my "yarn dresser" (I have a chest of drawers in my guest bedroom that is solely devoted to storing yarn), I realized that my stash was exceeding my storage capacity. As in, if I shove one more skein into this drawer, something's going to explode capacity. A point which was further driven home when I purchased a couple of those humongous 30 gallon plastic storage tubs and promptly filled both of them. To the very top. And then some. My stash seriously exploded this year, and (excitingly!) I acquired some really pretty, awesome, good stuff (MadTosh, anyone? Plucky Knitter? Oh yeah ...). All stuff that I really really really want to knit with, but somehow I keep. buying. more. So that's got to stop this year. That really is my biggest goal, knitting my stash down to a level I'm comfortable with. Which, let's face it, will still be an amount suitable for stocking a small yarn shop, but as long as I feel good that's all I care about! Heh! Frankly, the easiest way for me to put a good dent in my stash is to actually knit up the sweater quantities of yarn I've been acquiring ... but I'm afraid that will never happen if I specifically put that out there as a resolution (look how far that got me in 2013!). So we'll see how that goes ... I recently have acquired some really exciting knitting books, so continuing my Love Your Library challenge will help ensure I have some accountability in following through on knitting out of them!

What are your knitting resolutions for 2014?

2013 knitting year in review

(pictured clockwise, starting in the upper left-hand corner)
5. Azalea Hat (my own free pattern!)
10. Another Azalea Hat
11. Luuk

 13. Minion!

20. Earthen
(not pictured: an additional two wash cloths, two charity scarves, and a water bottle cover)

I don't know about you, but it's hard to believe that another year has passed. And man, it's been another productive one! Lots of small projects (not surprising, given my propensity for instant gratification knitting!), which helped me increase my total number of projects completed when compared to last year, but did NOT surpass last year's total yards knit numbers.  As you can see, 2013 was the year of the hat and the kid sweater! But my favorite projects had to be the minion and all the bulky weight lace ...

What were your favorite finished projects of 2013? Next up, I will revisit the knitting resolutions I made last January ... did I fulfill them?

merry christmas!

Wishing you a very merry Christmas and some happy, relaxed knitting post gift-giving mania! When I get a chance, I'll be working on my Vanilla Latte socks (freebie pattern!) in some awesome String Theory Colorworks self-striping yarn. When I purchased this yarn, I was totally seeing funky watermelons, but given the season it now looks like non-traditional Christmas yarn! Either way, I'm loving how fast this is knitting up! This is my first pair of socks using the magic loop method, and I think I may have finally stumbled upon a method of knitting socks that I love. I've turned the heel and am racing to finish this sock now. Merry Christmas!

a manly hat

My last-minute giftmas knitting is complete! I love how this turned out ... hopefully so will the recipient!

Pattern: Earthen by Alicia Plummer (link to my Ravelry project page)
Needles: Size 5 and 7 Addi's
Yarn: Knit Picks Swish Tonal (approximately .75 of a skein, "Thunderhead" colorway)
Modifications: None! Fun, fast knit!

Hope all your last-minute holiday preparations are going smoothly!

last minute giftmas knits

Decided last weekend to make a hat as a last-minute Christmas gift ... good thing hats knit up fast! This is Earthen by Alicia Plummer, a nice, manly guys' hat pattern. I'm using some Knit Picks Swish Tonal (Thunderhead), and it's knitting up nice and squishy and soft!

What are you finishing up for Christmas this year? Wishing you speedy needles as Christmas nears!

storm fir shawl

It's done! My first attempt at lace that forced me to actually block something for the first time in my life ... and I love it! Now I completely and totally get the magic of blocking lace. Prior to blocking, this shawl was a lumpy, bumpy mess. After blocking = flat, beautiful stitches! LOVE! I'm hooked. This won't be my last lace ... I'm already scoping out more bulky weight lace patterns to add to my endless queue! I will definitely knit this pattern again. So fun!

Needles: Size 10.5 Addi's
Yarn: Knit Picks Full Circle (4 skeins of the Latte colorway)
Modifications: None! I blocked it by soaking the shawl in water, then getting as much water out as possible by sandwiching it between towels, and then stretching and pinning onto the spare bedroom mattress. It took the entire length of a queen-size mattress, and then some!

bulky lace

The storm fir shawl is nearly done! It doesn't look like much in this picture, but I'm really happy with how this project is turning out. Would definitely be done by now if it weren't for the interruptions of Thanksgiving and work! Should definitely be able to get this blocking by the weekend ...

mini monsters and ornaments

I don't know about you, but we have a rule in our house: no Christmas decorations until after Thanksgiving. Poor Thanksgiving seems to get completely ignored now with all the Christmas ramp-up! So now that Thanksgiving has passed, I can share these little Christmas knits I finished earlier this month. 


 Pattern: Maddox by Rebecca Danger (link to my Ravelry project page)
Needles: Size 1.5 dpn's
Yarn: Colinette Jitterbug, in "Fire" colorway
Modifications: None! The beauty of Rebecca's patterns is that you can easily modify size by knitting with a smaller yarn weight and gauge. Believe it or not, this is exactly the same pattern as the Maddox I made last year in my charity knitting-a-thon!

Needles: Size 2 circulars
Yarn: String Theory Colorworks Continuum in the "Kinetic Energy" colorway (scrap leftovers from my fa la la la socks!)
Modifications: None! This was a fun, fast ornament. Using the self-striping yarn created a beach ball look, which I didn't mind. I picked up three stitches at the top and knit an i-cord and then tacked down the other end to make the "hanger." 

Hope you had a great Thanksgiving and are ready for the holiday season!

a lesson in gauge

So, I'll be the first to admit that I've gotten a little careless when it comes to measuring gauge lately ... as in ... not at all. I seriously know better, and have gotten away with it .... until now. As I made my Christmas knitting plans I got the grand idea to make some sort of shawl for my Grandma. Now she doesn't strike me as the lacy-shawl kind of person, so I was envisioning something more blanket-like that she could either wrap around her shoulders or cover her lap with while crafting away watching television in the evenings. So when I spotted the Grand Palais Shawl in one of my old KnitScene magazines, I thought I had found the perfect pattern. I cast on, and knit knit knit away, loving every second of the garter stitch. When I reached the half-way point I realized that something was a little off ... see my progress shot above? Compare to the finished object shot from the pattern below. Even with the addition of the lacy border, I don't see my version coming anywhere near the original's size. And then I checked the gauge. Hmm... the pattern calls for gauge that is basically half the stitch count I'm getting with my Knit Picks Full Circle Bulky yarn on size 11 needles (which would end up twice as big as the gauge I'm currently knitting). Oops! I'm still loving the pattern and will finish it to make a generous scarf for myself. But that doesn't leave me with my Christmas gift for Grandma ...

So today I cast on for the Storm Fir Shawl. It promises to be an equally super-speedy knit, and should be closer to the size I was envisioning for this project! 

Stay tuned ... 

little dancer legwarmers

The leg warmers are done, and just in time for cold weather! I forgot how relaxing knitting a tube is, ha! These are Knit One, Crochet Too "Crock 'o Dye" sock yarn, knit up on size two needles. I cast on 46 stitches,  knit one inch of K1P1 ribbing, then knit an additional 3 inches or so before increasing for the calf. I had two increase rows, knitting in the front and back at the four "corners" of my tube to increase four stitches each time (ending with 54 total stitches). Then ended with 1.5 inches of K1P1 ribbing. Easy peasy!

one skein cowl

My love of Malabrigo Mecha has only grown since I made my Montague Bulky Lace Vest in the stuff. This is by far the fastest pattern I've made in awhile. Truly instant gratification. Big yarn, big needles, addictive pattern = awesome!

Yarn: Malabrigo Mecha (one skein, in the Archangel colorway)
Needles: Size 11 Addi circulars
Modifications: None!

toddler ballet wrap

One of the exciting happenings around here this fall has been the start of dance lessons! And Mississippi has had an unseasonably cool fall this year (which this west coast girl is loving!), which has spurred me to make my munchkin a sweater to wear over her dance leotard much earlier than it would normally be needed.

Pattern: Toddler Ballet Wrap by Eileen Casey (free pattern!) My Ravelry project page.
Yarn: Berroco Weekend (2.1 skeins ... if I had made 3/4 length sleeves I would have not needed to dip into the third skein to finish the i-cord!) Colorway 5975, a raspberry purple-pink color.
Needles: Size 8 circulars, size 7 dpn's for the i-cord
Modifications: Lengthened the sleeves to full length! Added about an 1.5 inches of ribbing at the wrist before starting the sleeve pattern as written, then just kept knitting to desired length before doing the shaping at the top.

This knit up fast. Makes me want to knit up a bunch of things in worsted/aran weight, since they get done so much more quickly! My favorite part of this pattern is the applied i-cord ties and edging. I had never done applied i-cord before, and I love how neat and tidy it is. So easy, too!

Of course she'll need coordinating leg warmers, right? Hope you're having a great Friday!

tricks, not treats!

Yikes, clearly October was an unplanned blogging break for me! I know everyone's long since recovered from Halloween by now, but I can't resist sharing this washcloth I made last month. It's a technique I've wanted to try for a long time now--illusion knitting! The pictures is "hidden" and you can only see it when you hold the project at an angle. It's sooo much easier than it looks--you purl in the color of the hidden picture and knit in the non-picture part. On the other rows, you purl the contrast color in the non-picture part and knit in the picture part (in this example, black is the contrast color).

Yarn: Assorted Peaches 'n Cream in my stash
Needles: Size 7 
Modifications: None!

What picture?

 Ta da!

little spare time pullover

It's done! The Little Spare Time pullover is finished and ready in anticipation of cooler weather! I am in love with this unique collar. It's garter and squishy and cozy--now I'm tempted to make the adult version for me! And I'm loving how the pooling turned out, too!

Pattern: Little Spare Time Pullover (2T size)
Yarn: Lorna's Laces Sportmate, in "A Year of Firsts" (used just under two skeins!)
Needles: Size 5 Addi's
Modifications: I skipped a button band detail on the bottom waistband (didn't seem necessary) and instead of using a toggle to close the scarf part of the collar, I sewed it closed (my little guy would put a button in his mouth, so I'm still avoiding that potential choking hazard!).

spare time is growing

Well, I should clarify ... my personal spare time has not increased, but my little spare time sweater has! I'm finishing up the second sleeve now, and will just need to weave in ends and do some tiny seaming at the collar. Loving how it is turning out!

What's next? Since it's Socktoberfest, I dug through my many WIPs and found the Dancing Bamboo socks I started sometime last spring. It's a simple, easily memorized lace pattern so it should be fun to finish! 

little spare time KAL

Wow, September has flown by. I've been constantly knitting here ... just not making much progress on anything, thanks to another serious bout of cast-on-itis and lack of focus due to an exceptionally crazy month filled with work obligations. My best progress so far has come from my participation in my very first knit-along, Terri Kruse's Spare Time KAL. I do find this ironic, given that I really feel like I have very little spare time this month! I'm making the kid version for my little guy, hoping to have a sweater ready for him once the temperatures finally dip in December. This is Lorna's Laces Sportmate in "A Year of Firsts." Loving it so far!

cowl crazy

My brioche cowl is done! Soooo soft, soo warm, sooo satisfying!

Pattern: Gina's Brioche Hat and Cowl (freebie from Purl Bee) My Ravelry Project Page
Needles: Size 9 Addi Turbo's
Yarn: Malabrigo Merino Worsted in Apple Green and Jacinto (used all but 1/4 of each skein)
Modifications: Cast on 90 stitches.

Remember when I said I wouldn't be able to make just one? My next pairing is Hollyhock with Cuarenta ...

it's brioche, baby

I've got a new obsession. Brioche! It's a technique I've wanted to try for ages ... then earlier this summer, I indulged in some stash enhancement (Malabrigo Merino in assorted colorways ... mmmm) with the intent of making some two-color brioche cowls. And finally I am following through on my plans ... and I'm loving every minute of it! 

It's so comforting and mindless and satisfying--everything I'm looking for in a project while I'm in the midst of back-to-school, hurry-hurry-scramble mode. And I fall hard for any kind of technique that looks way fancier/harder/complicated than it really is. Case in point: you only use one color at a time with this technique. Each row is either a combination of K2tog and slipping stitches (with a yarnover that "floats" on top of your slipped stitch) or a P2tog with the slipped stitch/yarnover combination. The pattern I'm using is Purl Bee's free brioche cowl tutorial, but combined with the needle size/cast on used from Kennebec. So I cast on 90 stitches, and am using size 9 needles. Other than that modification, I'm following the Purl Bee pattern. Oh, and of course using Malabrigo isn't so awful, either! This is Apple Green combined with Jacinto.

I have a feeling these are going to be like potato chips ... I won't be able to stop at just one ...

 (a peek at the reverse side!)

one crazy cat quilt

The cat quilt is done! Just in time, too! This is by far the most patchwork I've ever done! Triangles? Oh my! It was fun and less fiddly than I feared, however.  The pattern is the free "kool kat kwilt" by Patti Carey, but upsized for a full size bed. To upsize it, I added another row of cats to the borders and added strips of extra cat material until I ran out. I ended up with a quilt top the size of a queen size flat sheet (which I used for my backing), so this is a generously-sized full bed quilt!

malabrigo mecha love

It's done! It's done! And I loooooove it! Happy dances all around! As much as I like to avoid seaming, there is something so satisfying and motivating about how fast the much smaller "left front" and "right front" knit up after knitting the back. 

I love how knitting with bulky yarn gives a 3-D quality to the lace--it almost looks like cables! But all it is is the bulk of a three-stitch SSSK or K3tog! Neat, huh? And I am in absolute love with this yarn and colorway--"Whale's Road" is the perfect name for it. It's so hard to photograph, but there is purple, turquoise, and different shades of navy blue in the mix. For some reason I am totally drawn to dark royal blues and navy right now, and this yarn perfectly encapsulates those shades. This is a superwash Malabrigo, which I am super excited about. I won't have to worry about felting it on accident!

Pattern: Montague Bulky Lace Vest (from the book New England Knits) Link to my Rav project.
Yarn: Malabrigo Mecha (3.75 skeins, "Whale's Road" colorway)
Needles: Size 13 Addi Turbos
Modifications: Like others who have knit this pattern, I added an edging around the armholes to make them look more finished. And to minimize the size--I found the armholes to be a little gaping and large without the edging. I simply picked up and knit stitches evenly around the armhole, and then knit three rows stockinette before casting off. It's the same edging used in my Mom's Vest--simple, but looks nice and clean.

This is definitely going to be in heavy rotation once our temps finally feel quasi-winter like here in Mississippi! (oh, say, December!)

cat invasion

Lately my house feels like a cat factory! The cat quilt is progressing nicely ... now I need to finalize my layout so I can finish the cat tail blocks.

knitting a minion

The minion is done! The minion is done! Actually, he's been 99% finished since last Tuesday. I was a little burnt out from my late night knitting to keep this guy a surprise until we saw Despicable Me 2, and wasn't able to bring myself to knit the last detail (the strap for his eye goggle) until last night. I was pretty tempted to leave this detail off, but I am so glad I finished it. It looks so much more "done" with the strap!

I am so glad I chose this pattern. Compared to others I've seen, this is a much more substantial toy in terms of size. The body is 13 inches long (not including the legs) and 12 inches wide, making it pretty much a nice, huggable toy. My daughter's reaction? "It's so fluffy!" Good one, huh? 

Pattern: Bruce and Norm, the Despicable Minions (link to my Ravelry project page)
Yarn: Knit Picks Comfy Worsted, two skeins of Creme Brulee, one skein Black, one skein Celestial, tiny amounts of Hawk (the gray), Peony (the tongue) and White (eye and teeth).
Needles: Size 6 circulars and dpn's
Modifications: skipped the "G" pocket for now, as it seemed like something that would get ripped off in the wear and tear this little guy will get from my kiddos. Other than that, none!

My favorite detail? The hands! I love the rolled cuff detail (surprisingly easy!). And the eye is pretty awesome, too. As you can see in the picture above, once it is stuffed it is pretty 3-D! Ha!

And my Montague Lace Bulky Vest? Getting closer! This is where I'm at on my right front side. I've finished the left front side and back, so the end is in sight! It really is a fast knit, I'm just not devoting consistent attention to it. I've been distracted by my cat quilt and catching up on scrapbooking. Too many crafts, too little time ...

making minions & lace

Starting the duplicate stitch to make the bib of the overalls on my minion, and it's going better than I feared! It reminds me of cross-stitch (without the cross) so it's been pretty fun, actually. I would soo be done with this project already if I weren't attempting to keep it a secret from its recipient ... hmm... 

And the back is finished on my montague bulky lace vest! Woot! Woot! I've cast on for the left front piece next!

2021 year in review

  Who would have thought that the second year of a pandemic would be worst than the first, in terms of crafting mojo? Not I. But this chart ...