Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008 In Review

I did a lot of knitting in 2008 and virtually no sewing. I’m hoping to achieve more of a balance in 2009, but as I always say, these things are my hobbies and having to do something when I don’t want to takes all of the fun out of it.

In non-crafty news for 2008, I started a new job and have managed to successfully negotiate the first 50 weeks in this position, although it has been dicey at times. We have settled into our life here in Pittsburgh, and I’ve become horribly overscheduled with the full-time job plus part-time gigs at my favorite LYS, the local pro football team and various occasional day-jobs with the worldwide leader in sports.

I’ve continued with my M&Ms quilting group, doing a series of Row Robin quilts documented here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here. I’m so thankful that these seven women want to keep me around (via e-mail and snail mail) since they are very important to me.

The Hurricane Knitters take up my first-and-third Wednesday evenings whenever I can get there, and I don’t get to the Borders knitting group as much as I’d like, but I appreciate being part of that group as well. I’ve already signed up for a full-day “major” extravaganza at The Quilt Company in February, so I’m hoping to find some local quilty “peeps” in the upcoming year.

So as we end 2008 and look forward to 2009, here I am recapping what appears to be the Year of the Sock at chez DPUTiger

Links below go to the appropriate FO post here at HPWT

1. BruWin Scarf; 2. No-Purl Monkey Socks; 3. Purple V-Neck Sweater; 4. Countess; 5. Spiraling Coriolis Socks; 6. Cobblestone; 7. Woven Ridge Socks; 8. Fountain Foxglove Socks; 9. Cables & Corrugations Socks; 10. Leafling Socks; 11. Softball Socks; 12. SOS#1: Caterpillar Socks; 13. SOS#2: Tall Tibetian Coriolis Socks; 14. SOS#3: Black Socks of Doom; 15. Sprout; 16. Philosopher’s House Socks; 17. A Hug for Barb; 18. Incredible Shrinking Barts; 19. Koigu Kermit Socks; 20. Sheep Feet Socks; 21. Noro Striped Scarf; 22. My First Moebius.

Let’s recap. Three finished sweaters, but only one was actually knit in 2008 (Cobblestone). Fourteen pairs of socks, 12 for me. Five projects knit with the intention of giving them to someone else (BruWin scarf, Monkeys, Cobblestone, Black Socks of Doom, A Hug for Barb).

I didn’t do a yarn meter or anything like that. Despite the 14 pairs of completed socks, my sock yarn stash has grown. A lot. ::sigh:: Well, I’m still enjoying the crap out of this craft, but let’s hope I can put a quilt or two (or three? more?) in this mosaic come December 31, 2009.

Meanwhile, I wish all of you a Happy, Healthy and Safe 2009. Thanks very much for reading (and hopefully commenting!) here at ye olde bloggity blog. I appreciate all of you!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Elephants, Tigers and Bears! Oh My!

When I took my first photography class in high school, we took a field trip to the Pittsburgh Zoo. That was about 20 years ago (yeek!) and I still have some matted photos from that trip.

So what did I really want to do when I got a schweet new camera for Christmas? Go to the Zoo!

Fortunately, the Pittsburgh Zoo is open 362 days a year and the weather on Monday was pretty darn good. So I went to the zoo! And shot over 200 photos! Here are a very few of my favorites, and a slightly larger Flickr photoset is online.

Tigers snoozing in the sun

Bears hibernating

Cute baby elephants!

This really freaked out one of the (human) moms near me
“NO, I WILL NOT take a picture of THAT!”

And as for the Zoo's baby leopard (born in May, he's the first exhibit as you walk in)?

Yeah, I’m cute…

… Just don’t mess with my Pooh Bear!

Monday, December 29, 2008

My First Moebius!

Between the election day message of unity (Ravelry link/revolving around the symbolism of the one-sided Moebius) from Cat Bordhi herself and taking two days of classes with Cat the following week, I just had to cast on for my very first Moebius.

It won’t be my last.

Celtic Queen helped me make sure my MCO “railroad track” was done properly with a single cross. From there, it was just a lot of knitting until I decided it was time to bind off.

When I finished the attached I-cord bind off, I was worried I had made it too small. Seeing Derf model the Moebius for this photo shoot reinforced that worry. But after wearing it for most of the day at Bloomin last Saturday, I think it’s really the perfect length. I love it!

My First Moebius

Pattern: Your First Moebius by Cat Bordhi from “A Second Treasury of Magical Knitting”
Yarn: Malabrigo Silky Worsted
Colorway: Cloudy Sky
Source: Bloomin Yarns
Quantity: 1.75 skeins
Needles: Knit Picks Options US 8 with 47” cord
Size: Cast on 200 stitches via MCO.
Started: 14 November 2008
Finished: 24 December 2008
Mods: None, really. Did an attached I-cord bind off

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Noro Striped Scarf No. 1

I got a kick-ass new camera for Christmas. Once upon a time, I was the photography editor of Indiana’s Oldest (and Coolest) College Newspaper and liked doing that enough that I tried to pursue a career in sports photography (no! really! I even won an award or two!). As I got going on that "other" career that I'm still doing, I had less and less time to take pictures and it has been nearly 10 years since I shot seriously.

I had forgotten what it was like to hold a real camera in my hands. To balance the lens with my left hand while firing the shutter with my right. To hear that special “click” that’s unique to a SLR (that’s “single lens reflex”) camera. ::sigh:: I might be in love.

There’s not much to say about making a Noro Scarf. So I’m going to let my first goofing around with the new camera tell the story. Oh, and I totally get what Jared was saying about this scarf being at least as much fun to photograph as it was to knit.

I cast on so I’d have a brainless project while I was walking around at the Maryland Sheep and Wool festival and it was a back-burner project pretty much from start to finish.

Staying true to form, I decided on a bulletproof fabric on basically a too-small needle

And it was a lot shorter than I expected, so I stretched the hell out of it while it was blocking.

And isn’t my model cute? Baxter did a great job! ;-) Noro Striped Scarf, The Sequel is already on the needles. Two needle sizes bigger!

Noro Striped Scarf

Pattern: Basic 1x1 ribbing, but based off of the Brooklyn Tweed recipe
Yarn: Noro Silk Garden
Colorways: 2 skeins of 252. One each of 205 and 258
Source: Bloomin Yarns
Needles: Knit Picks Options US 6 (yeah, I know)
Size: I’ll try to remember to measure the length later, but I just knit until I ran out of yarn
Started: 2 May 2008 (at hotel just before my first foray into the MSWF)
Finished: 21 December 2008

Mods: I’m a moron and it didn’t occur to me to spit-splice the ends, so I duplicate stitched all the ends in. It worked fine. I also used a too-small needle an wound up with a narrow scarf, but I still like it and it’s still warm. So there!

I love these pictures so much I wanted to hold them another day and show you my other remaining FO first (also shot with the new camera), but I’m committed to bringing you my finished projects in the order in which they were completed. See? I’m just a slave to the blog …

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Sheep Feet Socks

Just before Thanksgiving, I posted a sock toe on this here blog and neglected to tell you much about the project.

It was a brand new yarn that we had just gotten in at Bloomin Yarns. Sheep Feet from Sheep Shop Yarn Company.

Bloomin has carried their Sheep Two and Sheep Three for quite a while, but Sheep Feet was a new experience. So I took a skein home and got started.

I was worried about the yardage from the get-go. This yarn is very much like Socks that Rock Mediumweight, but while the STR-M is a 350-yard put-up, the Sheep Feet is a puny 218 yards. Yeah.

So I carefully weighed and measured this yarn. On the scale (I have a kick-ass new scale that I got a few months ago from here. It weighs to 0.1 gram accuracy. I lurves it, although if I had known about the scale KnitPicks is selling, I likely would have purchased that one instead.), divide the weight total by two. Wind so both halves of the skein are equal in weight. Mark the center. Re-wind into one ball. Start knitting. See what happens.

I did my standard New Pathways garter toe. See?

Garter toes. Check!

I knit the Riverbed architecture and New Pathways heel turn

Heels. Check!

Then I headed up the leg. Hmmmmm …


See that removable stitch marker on the front sock? Well, that’s the halfway point of the skein. Which means that’s where I would have had to quit if I wanted an equal-height pair of socks from a single skein of Sheep Feet. Want a better look?

Sock #1, on the hoof!

So there you go. If you like short socks or have small feet, then yes. You can get a pair out of a single skein. I wear a US Women’s 8.5 shoe and I do not like short socks. Which meant that sock #1 was knit from more than half of that skein and I busted out my “emergency” skein for the second sock. Which is why they don’t match perfectly, as I’m sure you’ve noticed from the photos.

Sheep Feet Socks

Pattern: New Pathways Riverbed Master
Yarn: Sheep Feet
Colorway: Spring
Quantity: Roughly a total of 1.5 skeins, but each sock was knit with a separate skein
Source: Bloomin Yarns
Needles: US 2.5/3.0mm, Addi Lace needles, 47", Magic Loop
Sock Size: U.S. Women’s 8.5 (for me, which means 8.5” circumference/9.5” length)
Started: 21 November 2008
Finished: 1 December 2008 (yes, these were very fast socks!)
Mods: None

Notes: I really love this yarn. Enough that I bought two skeins in Modern for “man socks” when Bloomin had its sale right after Thanksgiving. But therein lies the problem. I bought two skeins. This yarn is too damn expensive to be one-per-sock, since it retails at $20/skein. A knitter should be able to get a pair of socks out of a skein that costs that much. The only exception would be if the yarn has luxury fiber content, and this doesn’t.

The strange yardage decision for this put-up will keep it off of my list of favorites, but if you can get it on sale or are knitting a shorter-yardage project? Go for it. It’s a great yarn.

Friday, December 26, 2008

M&Ms #8 of 8: Mine!!

My letter to the group was pretty vague. I went out and bought a box of the Crayloa crayons you got in kindergarten. Just eight colors: Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Purple/Violet, Brown and Black, and I included it with my letter

I love blues, and that’s a color that’s usually very prevalent in both my knitting and quilting. So I told my friends to use those crayons as a guide and while they were welcome to use blue, they shouldn’t focus on it. I didn’t put any restrictions on my quilt at all. Pick something and go with it. Have your row reflect what you love about quilting.

You all saw my row being constructed here

And my “opening row” here

Yeah, it's the good 'ol Double Z!

My friends then took that row for a ride from mid-February until December 8, and here’s what they came up with

The above photo was taken at Sandy’s on December 8. Believe me, I would much rather have been there than in Florida. It would have been exponentially more enjoyable!

I took another photo this morning while the weather was still nice here this morning

In the above photo, the rows were constructed by (from top to bottom, links to their quilt posts): Carol, Anne, Denise, Nonie, Sandy, Yours Truly (starter row), Lisa and Beth.

I’ll be toting this quilt top around for a while in an effort to find the perfect border and backing, but I am very much looking forward to seeing this quilt finished. Thank you, my friends. I love all of you and am incredibly thankful that you have been willing to keep me involved in your group despite the thousands of miles between us. You all mean the world to me, and I would not have lasted eight years in Los Angeles without you.

I can’t wait to see what kind of trouble we’ll get into in 2009!

So that concludes the 2008 M&Ms quilt reveals. I hope you have enjoyed the series!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

M&Ms # 7 of 8: Carol!

Carol gets a gold star on this whole Row Robin project.

She set the schedule of who got which quilt at each trade.

She’s our official note-taker, making sure we all know what took place at our meetings beyond eating good food and laughing a lot.

She volunteered to be Mail Girl, sending me the next quilt at each exchange.

And she’s just a genuinely wonderful and generous person.

Carol’s quilt was the one I brought home with me in February after our initial meeting. She even tried to give me a jump on getting started. Remember the leak above our mailbox? Yeah. That was Carol’s quilt.

Here’s Carol on “opening day.”

Carol found a border print a while ago and built her quilt around that print. Do a full row of five 12" (finished) blocks, but fabrics can be different in each block. She provided background fabric, and since she knew that her fabric tastes and mine are polar opposites, she sent a few other fabrics that would go with her border print and once I had a few minutes to rub together, I got sewing. Remember this picture?

Well, it was from this blog post.

Somehow, I didn’t manage to take a picture of my row on Carol’s quilt before sending it off, but I did my “trademark” Double Z block from Quilters Cache. You can see Carol’s churn dash block? That’s the row you can see just to the left of center in the finished quilt below. My Double Z’s are one row to the right of the churn dashes (4th from the right)

Here’s hoping that this "inside" of the quilt looks fabulous with Carol’s border print!

One quilt left to blog. Mine! Santa was very, very, very good to me and I’m sure some of that stuff is blog-able. Plus there are two knitty FO’s and a 2008 wrap-up, so it’s going to be a pretty busy week around here (I hope!) Tomorrow’s itinerary includes Christmas card shopping with my mom first thing in the morning and a probable trip out to Robinson with the Hubster to visit Costco and possibly the J-store. Hope your day-after-Xmas is fun too!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

M&Ms #6 of 8: Lisa!

Oops. I spent the afternoon in the basement, sewing. Then we had dinner and I watched a little football and all of “It’s a Wonderful Life.” I kind of forgot I hadn’t done a blog post. Well, the world won’t end if I’m a little late, will it?

Lisa had very specific instructions.

Black background, fabric provided. Name of the block must include the word “Star,” and could be any 12” (finished) star except the Autograph Star. She had made autograph stars for each of us, which we were to sign with our name and the name of the start that we chose to sew. The color of each block was to be chosen by the color of an M&M. You saw a preview of my block here with this picture:

Once again, I took crappy notes, and hell if I can remember the name of the block I chose. Lisa reads, so if she can fill me in on the name of the block, that would be awesome!

As you know, a regular package of plain M&Ms has candy in red, orange, yellow, green, blue and brown. If I remember right (and that’s a crapshoot, especially when I’m blogging this late!), brown was to be ignored and orange could only be used once. Your only color restriction was that your row had to be a different color than the row before yours. Carol and I had a good giggle when I posted the above photo as the tiny little preview of my work on Lisa’s quilt. Knowing my affinity for blue, Lisa was baffled that I had chosen green. Tee hee! Carol had done a blue row!

Here’s what I got in the mail from Carol

On my lovely living room carpet, no less!

And here’s what it looked like when it headed back to Carol for the next switch

And finally, here’s what Lisa saw at the big Dec. 8 reveal!

I think she had a fantastic idea and would up with a really terrific quilt!

Merry Christmas, everyone! It’ll be a quiet holiday here. Just the Hubster and I for the morning, then at some point we’ll head over to my parents house. Enjoy your Thursday in whatever way suits you best!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

M&Ms #5 of 8: Anne!

Anne is the lone blogger in my M&Ms group, although she’s a bit of a lapsed blogger. That’s OK. She’s fun anyway, and I love that she’s grabbing her new life at the Gardens with both hands and shaking it for all it’s worth!

Anne loves bright colors, particularly lime green. When she moved in at the Gardens, we made her a quilt for her bed at her new place. Here’s her blog post of that quilt, my row is the nine-patch blocks at the foot of the bed.

So anyhoo, the colors for Anne’s quilt this time around weren’t drastically different. Dog/cat fabrics, bright colors, black backgrounds. Fabric options, background (I think?) and between-row sashings included for our convenience. Here’s Anne with her "starter row" on Opening Day:

Once again, I worked on this just about exclusively at the Lake, I used a fabric I bought at Quilted Memories up there, and barely took pictures for some unknown reason. I used two blocks, two Brasstown Stars

And three Paper Pinwheels

And where did I find the blocks? Say it with me now … Quilters Cache! Here's what the quilt looked like when it headed back to the left coast

Finally, here’s Anne with her finished quilt top.

Three more quilts to go.

In other news, I’m officially off of work until January 5. I don’t really have the words to express how happy this makes me. We’re also meeting with the third and final contractor about the master bathroom tomorrow morning. Here’s hoping we can get someone in here and working in January.

Monday, December 22, 2008

M&Ms Quilt #4 of 8: Nonie!

Nonie picked some of my favorite colors, blues and yellows. I have a whole tub of fabric with a pattern pulled to do a blue and yellow quilt of my own!

Here’s Nonie with her row on opening day

Hi, Nonie!

If I remember right, Nonie’s instructions were pretty much to use yellow and blue fabrics and you should use at least two different blocks in your row. But I could be wrong. I don’t clearly remember the instructions for this particular quilt. (since I had it many moons ago ...)

I worked on this quilt exclusively at the Lake, and went to my favorite store up there, Quilted Memories to get one of the two blues. I promptly mis-cut in some way, shape or form and had to readjust exactly how many of each block I was going to do. Eh. It all worked out OK.

My row is on the bottom. Blocks, as always, were taken from Quilters Cache. I believe they were (L-R): Antique Tile, Arrowhead Puzzle and Envelope Motif. I have no idea why I skipped my “signature” Double Z block, since it wound up in just about everyone else’s quilt.

And here’s the finished quilt on the night of the “big reveal.” Boy, my row really stands out in the middle there!

I don’t know why I didn’t take more pictures of this quilt, but that ship has sailed. We’re at the halfway point of the M&Ms Row Robin. I hope you aren’t bored to death yet!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

M&Ms Quilt #3 of 8: Denise!

Before I start talking quilting, I have a very important announcement to make:

Happy Birthday, Dad!

I learned early that December 21 was the winter solstice. Easy to remember, since it’s also my dad’s birthday! We’re off to the family birthday dinner shortly and remember, the days get longer from here on out!

Meanwhile, back to quilting.

Denise wanted a Christmas quilt.

She provided some sashing fabric to go between the rows and some other fabrics to coordinate. She also sent along some of the fabric that will be used as the borders so we could all do our best not to clash.

I pulled stash fabric for the reds and greens I used, but if I remember right, I used one of Denise’s blue snowflake fabrics for my background.

Mine is on the bottom, right below Carol’s snowmen!

I pulled the mitten pattern from one of my very favorite holiday quilting books, “Joy to the World” by those evil geniuses Lynda Milligan and Nancy Smith. I swear I want everything they publish, including “More Joy to the World.”

Here are a few more close-up looks at my row. The green-mitten appliqué blocks on the ends are identical, and the pieced blocks are the block that’s becoming my “signature” block – the good ‘ol Double Z from Quilters Cache.

Once I had the whole thing pieced and attached, I realized that I probably should have done two mitten blocks, one green and one red, and three Double Z’s. I wasn’t thrilled with how closely my row mirrored Carol’s, but that’s my fault for trying to do this in a hurry. I hope Denise is pleased with the final product. Here’s how it looked when it left my house

And here’s how it looked at the “Big Reveal” on December 8!

That’s Denise holding the right edge of the quilt. Happy Holidays, my friend. I did get your package in the mail and I love it :-) (I'm just way behind on "life" and haven't made the time to send out thank-yous. Shame on me!)

Oh, and to the rest of the M&Ms, I have received my quilt and I love it! It’ll be blogged last in this series.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

M&M Quilts #2 of 8: Sandy

Sandy’s quilt should have been the sixth quilt that I worked on, not the seventh. But I got really behind and finished Denise’s quilt so I could ship it back to Nonie, and Beth and Lisa were fine with having a little less time since they could sew concurrently to finish the quilt. (no, you really didn't need to follow all of that)

Here’s Sandy on “opening day” back in February with her starter row.

Sandy’s quilt was made with upholstery fabrics. All of them were heavier than regular quilting cottons, some of them a lot heaver, and many of them frayed quite a bit.

The parameters for Sandy’s quilt were that each row had to have five unique blocks (12” finished). You could repeat a block from elsewhere in the quilt as long as it wasn’t in the row that was touching yours. Sandy provided all fabrics for the quilt, since none of us were going to already have matching upholstery fabric in their stash.

This quilt somehow got “big and scary” in my head and I don’t really know why. But in the end? It is a little special to me as it was my election day project! This is what I was sewing on when I heard the news of who was going to be POTUS No. 44. I stayed up until about 3 a.m. that night watching election returns and sewing until this quilt was finished so I could send it out the next day. Totally worth it!

Once again, I used Quilters Cache as an amazing resource to find the blocks I sewed for this quilt. From left to right, they were:

Ribbons, Four Patch Fox & Goose, Double Z, Amish Diamond, Mystery Block (Nelson’s Victory that I screwed up? Not out of the question.)

Ribbons, Four Patch Fox & Goose, Double Z

Four Patch Fox & Goose, Double Z, Amish Diamond

Amish Diamond, ???

And here’s a picture of Sandy’s quilt when it left my house. My row is at the bottom.

Finally, here’s the finished quilt, as unveiled at Sandy’s house on December 8.

(my row is next-to-last on the right. see the bright blue < ?)

Sandy is our wonderful host for this very special group. The group is the M&Ms quilters because we meet on Mondays and Sandy lives on Melrose, so M&M’s means Melrose Mondays.

As always, huge thanks to Sandy and her daughter Deb for allowing all of us to spend so much time at their house. Love & miss you both, and Sandy, I hope you love your finished quilt!