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The latest block in the Jinny Beyer Solstice Quilt kit was a long time in coming. I must admit that I don’t enjoy the circular sewing as much (this does not bode well for my project sitting on the design wall to be finished – the New York Beauty). The other reason it took so long is because I’ve become obsessed sewing the log cabin alternate blocks. I’m driven to do nothing but sew them til they are finished. *shakes fist* The will be finished! I’ve completed 3 of the 12. 9 to go and I don’t seem interested in working on anything else really.

These fabrics photograph so well, I don’t think they look quite as spectacular on the design wall.

Course when I said I’ve been doing nothing else, that wasn’t entirely true.

MINISKEINS! OMG I LOVE miniskeins, I can’t get enough of them. So I’m making this blanket, each miniskein makes just over one of these granny squares. So colourful. At some point, I will have enough squares and I will have to stop collecting miniskeins (though once you get into a collecting jag, it’s so hard to stop – I keep forgetting I’m no longer collecting for my monochrome quilt for example). The rule is that miniskeins must be converted to squares as a top priority so that I DO NOT amass a miniskein stash.

I managed to get a pair of socks for the baby out of the leftover sock yarn from Socks #2. They don’t spend much time on baby’s feet, however.

And there this is this quilt. It’s a scrap quilt and it’s going to be the map of the Tokyo Subway from Oh Fransson. But this first block has such a long story! I thought I would be able to easily sew this without marking the squares, if I cut them all correctly with a quarter inch seam and sewed straight. I took the pieces of the first block with me to Conflux last year and then on to Tehani’s house afterwards, where I stayed for a bit of a rest up. Well, I realised about halfway into this block, at Tehani’s, that I was not in fact sewing straight and that the squares didn’t line up. So it went into the suitcase and then into the back of a cupboard for a while. A long while. Until I was doing some GTD around the house and realising that really the next action was to unpick the sewn block so far and start over. To cut out a proper template, suck it up, mark each square and move on with my life. Which I did. And then voila, block 1 below, I sewed the two halves the wrong way round. Sigh!

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March 23   Crafterly Update

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I’ve been posting these blocks of my current quilting project on Facebook as I finish them but here they are all in one place. These are the individual blocks of the month from 2013 Jinny Beyer block of the month quilt – Solstice. C bought me the kit for my birthday last year and I was so hoping to work on just one block a month as they got emailed out to me. It seemed like such a reasonable goal. Unfortunately, I got carpal tunnel with the pregnancy and ended up not being able to sew at all for most of my confinement. This was very devastating – being cooped up at home with time on your hands and being expected to loll about on the couch watching TV and NOT being able to craft!

The other obstacle with this project which I now know I should have tackled differently is that at the very beginning of the project, before the first block, Jinny sent out the in between block pattern which is a basic log cabin with a fussy cut internal square. You have to make 12 of them and the instructions suggested making them up whilst you wait for the first block. I took that to me, finish these before you make the star blocks. And that would have been well and good had I been machine sewing and not hand sewing because 12 log cabin is actually more than 1 month of hand sewing. And it took me a long time to let go of finishing these before starting the project. (I’m still sewing these damn log cabins!). But I’m very proud of myself for wading in and attempting this project. Yes I made mistakes on the fussy cutting but making mistakes and having a quilt is much better than never starting for fear of failing, I ended up buying some extra fabric for the fussy cutting and now I can cut away with error room to spare.

Block 1

Block 3

Block 4

Block 5

Block 6

Block 7

Here’s a close up of the fabric that is being fussy cut for the details in the stars (colour not quite this purple in real life)

And the fussy cutting – cutting out exactly the same diamonds etc across the fabric to produce the extra patterns when sewn together. I’m thoroughly enjoying this process. It requires precision and exactness but the payoff is amazing. I’m hoping to do this by myself in other projects when I’m finished this one.

And!!! Because the socks in 2014 project plods along, here is Sock Pair # 2!!! A gift, so clearly not my size!

These are made from Blue Moon Fiber Arts, Rocking Sock Yarn, with a Mille End in mediumweight. I’m not sure I’ve knit in medium weight of theirs before and I was surprised by how much leftover yarn I had even with making these socks in a few sizes bigger than mine. I love this colourway so the baby is getting a pair of socks from the leftovers!

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December 6   Finished Socks!

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Sunrise Socks

First up. Finished pair of socks! These are my standard sock pattern in Lightweight Socks that Rock (Blue Moon Fiber Arts) in the colourway Zest.

And they make me happy. They are like a tequila sunrise or something. I love that they don’t match. I think they look exactly like the end of a great day. I can almost smell the heat slipping out of the air as the sun slides out of the sky.

Two days in a row of finished projects. I could get used to this! I picked up the closest work in progress when I finished my cardigan, something that wouldn’t require much thought to pick up and work on. It turned out these only needed the toe on the second sock which took not even half an hour to do. I think the stumbling was I’d lost one of the needles and I had to go find one. Sigh. So easy to put something down and find a stumbling block to prevent you just finishing it!

I’m intending to do an “airing of the stash” a la Cast On which I’m hoping will both catalogue all my works in progress into a nice neat spreadsheet of to dos for next year but also find a bunch of projects that I might get excited about. I’m thinking of being a bit more stern with my stash management. I’m thinking of *gasp* culling some of the stash I may not like or prioritising gifting finished pieces to those who might appreciate the colourway etc. I thought it might be fun to set those up in kits going into 2013 and then having them as things to work through over the year. *If* that doesn’t make “fun” into “work”.

The thing I’m starting to realise is, I tend to knit socks a lot because they use 1 skein of yarn and they justify the accumulation of random skeins of yarn that I love. And that’s what my stash is – a huge pile of single skeins of yarn. That you can only then make what? Socks, mittens, scarves or hats in. And jumpers etc are scary cause you have to invest more money in the yarn (and that makes it harder to justify changing your mind or going off a project idea …) But the stash itself has guilt attached – I feel like I can’t really buy more yarn that I like cause I have so much I have accumulated and done nothing with … I’m still wrestling with this guilt.

Let’s not even extend it to see how it works with the book stash. Or the fabric one. Or …

Today’s tea: T2 Strawberry Bliss Chai 1 star out of 5. (I *want* to like this tea so much more than I do. I think I just do not like chai. Or perhaps just cloves)

Today’s craft project: Blackberry Socks


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March 28   Finished Socks!

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Thanks to those who left feedback on my craft post of anguish. I am terribly behind at answering comments. I took all your advice and packed up and put away the Charm Quilt project. I packed up all the pieces that I had laid out and put them in a ziplock back and made a box just for this project. And that alone made me feel so much better. I’ve got a few pieces of that project still out on my sewing table – a few of the hexagons all pinned and ready to go – and some of the scraps. I’m mostly just mildly contemplating them from a distance. I feel like I could finish them off so they’re still out. But I am also very aware that I might feel completely better if I just packed them all up and put them away for now. Of course as soon as I did this, another little batch of fat eighths I’d ordered from a Jinny Beyer sale as a reward for something I finished came in. I took a photo of them and then popped them in the box as well. I’ll figure out what I’m doing with all that another day.

Tansy says I always have this panic and I always move in cycles. I dunno though – this quilting thing is pretty new. I only really started collecting fabrics just as my relationship with my ex was breaking up. So – oh. What’s that? 5 years ago now. Hmm maybe it’s not that new after all. Maybe I should just chill out about this and let go and let the cycles happen on their own. This forcing business only makes me feel bad anyway. It’s just that I have so many beautiful projects that I want to get to and I also want to actually finish the ones I have started. Anyway. This is not the point of this post. In any case, this time round, I really want to hope to believe that I can somehow be immersed in two crafts at once. Just like you can be immersed in two books at once. Oh. Nevermind.

I took up some very excellent advice from Sim in the comments to my last post. She suggested that I audit my projects. I’ve only partly started this. I’m hoping to have finished it by the end of the week. However, this exercise was very interesting because I found where all my sets of DPNs (double pointed needles, come in sets of 4) were. Yes, they were in various stages of different pairs of socks.

I decided that what I really want to focus on is starting and finishing the socks from the Cookie A’s sock club before the next skein of yarn comes in. So I went in search of the right needles. I found them in a sock project I had stashed in C’s glove box for those times I’m with him and we’re driving somewhere (we live 45 mins to an hour from stuff). I was maybe 25% away from finishing the pair. I’d started them on a couple of days field trip in the last job, oooh what? Last June? Last October?

Yes, well. I pulled out the project and assessed it. It was close to being finished but very quickly, I also discovered that the second sock was a little bit shorter than the first – I’d put the heel in too soon. So I ripped back the half of the gusset and the heel and started over. I was a bit annoyed at that, creating more work etc, but the stripes, they didn’t match and I’d made a point of casting on the second sock exactly at the right point so that they would. And it would only annoy me every time I wore them if I didn’t fix them now. What’s an extra day of work compared to be annoyed every time I wear them? These socks wear really well – they are a commercial self striping sock yarn and about 15% nylon so they machine wash and wear great. The first pair I made with them, something like 8 years ago, still look fantastic.

So in summary, I ripped back the sock to almost halfway, reknit it and finished these off over the weekend. A weekend in which I was out for most of Saturday and did various work things as well. A couple of hours and a new pair of socks. Makes me eye off the other socks in various stages on the needles. How long would it take me to have all new socks before winter? I suspect some of this has come about because I am so used to knitting for other people. I’m not sure why I am like that for knitting but a vast majority of what I have knit I have gifted away. And that sort of taints how you feel about it, I think. I mean, I love knitting and it might be that I am more process than product focused. Thus as long as I am knitting, I am happy. And how many of any one craft thing does one person need? Etc. But at some point, if you never enjoy the spoils of your labour, you must lose enthusiasm. So, whilst I do have a list of projects I want to gift this year, I think I really need (and I think I already had done so?) to set aside this year and craft primarily for myself. You know, til I have too many hats, scarves and socks etc.

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December 6   I’m dreaming of Xmas

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Plans plans plans. My head is swimming with plans of what I want to do in the future and it’s very difficult to stay enthusiastic about the grind of the present – you know that whole winding things up for the end of year thing.

I’ve suddenly got an exciting holiday to plan and granted it’s a long way away from now but still. Planning! Things to do! Things I want to see! Must make a “indicative” suggestion list. Wouldn’t want to be too scheduled but but but! SO EXCITED. Ahem.

Some time ago Deb had me promise to consider taking the month of December or January off TPP. To just … break. And relax. I think today I realised that’s probably not going to happen. I’m a bit sad about that but am also really revved up on the projects I’m currently working on and want to give as much time as I can to them. I want them to be the best I can make them. And I ended up behind in 2011 which I understand but can’t quite forgive myself for. Yes, yes, I can hear C’s refrain in the background.

Anyway, it is what it is. And I don’t do well idle anyway.

I keep forgetting I only have Xmas and New Years off – maybe 10 days, maybe a little more, I haven’t counted yet. But I have this huge list of things I somehow genuinely think is reasonable to get done in that time. Like I want to catch up on a bunch of TV shows. And I want to get stuck into finishing a few of my quilting projects. These two are compatible but um in 10 days? I can probably *work* on one project and undoubtedly will *start* several new ones. Thereby not completely goal A and setting myself to have even more UFOs (unfinished objects) for next Xmas. I also want to clean out and tidy the two spare rooms – one of which is currently the TPP storeroom and craft dumping ground. The other has two cupboards of craft supplies that I want to organise and audit. I also have a bunch of novels I want to finish. Last Short Story to get on top of. Oh and the rest. Like, all the TPP tasks I haven’t gotten to this year and the new projects/ideas I want to initiate or implement.

Rationalising is needed. I know.

And then I’m starting to think about 2012. It’s a new year. I’ll be getting married. I’m thinking of the cons I might attend and the ones I won’t. There’s change afoot in my day job and at this stage I don’t know which way that’s going to play out. And I feel like I need to set some rules for my hobbies. Yeah yeah I know how that sounds. But maybe something like, I can only buy a new book for every 2 that I finish reading. OR something. And I signed up for Cookie A’s sock club. It’s been a few years since I joined a sock club and that’s because I was using it as an elite sock yarn collecting exercise. This one though is a lot of fun – it’s the choice of 2 sock patterns with a skein of yarn every other month and two cookie recipes to bake to go along with it. It’s the cookie recipes that sealed the deal for me. And on umming and ahhing about it, C said to me – well I guess I’ll be baking the cookies. Damn  I love that man. And the thing I’m coming to finally realise is –  I can be superwoman and do it all but only because he does some of the things for/with me. Which the more I think about it, the more I realise this  is what is called a partnership or a team.

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I used to read a lot of knitting blogs and knitting socks had just seriously taken off in the early 2000s. I used to watch as bloggers would knit themselves pair of socks after pair of socks and wonder how many pairs one person needed. They would casually say that woollen socks wear and the heels go first and some would even say they threw their socks out when they got holes. I guess back then my Crohn’s Disease was pretty made and as I ran a constant fever, I didn’t wear the socks I made for myself that often. Mine didn’t seem to wear out – I guess cause I didn’t wear the ones I did make for myself but also because I gifted a lot of pairs that I made.

I have noticed the heels do wear first. But the fate that my hand knitted socks seem to perish to is the shrinking of the washing machine. No matter how careful I think I am being, socks get into the washing! I had a lovely ribbed pair I made from Socks that Rock in something like Ruby Red which shrank soon after I made them. I gave them to my sister a couple of months ago – she has much smaller feet but I don’t know if she wears them.

My latest tragedy is the discovery this week of this pair’s shrinkage/felting. (Thumb included for sizing) I’m sad to see these go and feel they deserve a bit of a eulogy. These were knitted from my very first, and most prized, skein of Vesper Self Striping from Knitterly Things – hand dyed, self striping and all the rage probably in 2003. When she’d upload new skeins to her shop, you had to be online and buy them immediately or else they were gone. I think I never managed to buy the colourway I secretly longed for but I really really wanted to try the self striping thing so I bought what I could. This skein. Prized but yet I can’t remember the colourway (ha! Excellent email filing tells me it was “Sweetwater” and I bought it in 2006) and the colours are not quite my thing so I rarely wore them.

And now they are gone. I loved you socks, for the experience you offered. I’m sad they’re gone but on the other hand, they were fun to make, I did love wearing them and now … now I don’t need to feel so bad about making myself another pair to replace them.

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