Monthly Archives: 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.

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.

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. 😛

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’.

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!

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.)

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.
So.
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.

2010 Wrap-up

Last yardage tally for the year, kittens! Woot!


Yardage Totals 2010

January: 1884 yds
February: 2850 yds
March: 2893 yds
April: 777 yds
May: 856 yds
June: 643 yds
July: 751yds
August: 1716yds
September: 3046 yds
October: 1337 yds
November: 1366yds
December: 2698yds

Year to date: 20,817 yds or 11.83 miles

OOOH. I was pretty close to the mile-per-month mark I was aiming for, but didn’t quite get there. It’s about 3.25 more miles’ worth of yarn then I knit in 2009. (And a lot less frogging as well. :] )

I plan to continue tracking my yardage in 2011 and maybe at the end of it, I’ll do a 3 year comparison and see if there are any trends to my knitting. I’m pretty sure my numbers will not be quite so high in 2011, and when I share my knitting intentions, that will make more sense. But I have to save something for tomorrow, right?
Now I’m off to watch Voyager with The Mister, work on a sock, and eat some snackies.